Mitt Romney joins GOP senators seeking to block court packing with constitutional amendment

Liberals revived expansion idea in retaliation for GOP rushing confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett.

(Susan Walsh | AP file photo) People line up to pay respects as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg lies in repose under the Portico at the top of the front steps of the U.S. Supreme Court building on Sept. 23, 2020. Utah Sen. Mitt Romney has joined a group of Republican senators seeking to use a constitutional amendment to keep the number of justices at nine.

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney is joining 10 other Senate Republicans to push a constitutional amendment to counter a threat by some liberals to expand the number of U.S. Supreme Court justices and pack the court with Democrats appointed by President Joe Biden.

The amendment — reintroduced after the group pushed similar legislation in the last Congress — would keep the number of Supreme Court justices at nine, the number it has been since 1869.

That comes after Democrats revived the idea of expanding the court last year in retaliation for the then-Republican controlled Senate confirming Amy Coney Barrett, nominated by former President Donald Trump, to the Supreme Court a week before the presidential election.

(Photo courtesy of Sen. Mitt Romney's office). Sen. Mitt Romney and Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett pose for photos before a meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020.

That came after a Republican-controlled Senate four years earlier refused even to hold hearings on Merrick Garland, nominated by Democrat Barack Obama a year before a presidential election.

The proposed amendment has little chance of passage. To be added to the Constitution, amendments proposed in Congress must pass by two-thirds majorities in both chambers there and be ratified by three-fourths of the states. Democrats now control both the Senate and House.

While Biden for years had opposed court packing, as a candidate he went silent on the issue and then promised to appoint a commission to study reforming the court system that he called “out of whack.”

“It remains imperative that we continue to resist efforts to pack the Supreme Court and treat it as if it is one of the elected branches of government,” Romney said in a statement on Monday. “Our society is only as strong as its institutions, and I hope my colleagues will join us in our effort to ensure the integrity and independence of the Supreme Court.”

The group of 11 GOP senators pushing the amendment is led by Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.

“Packing the Supreme Court is a radical, left-wing idea that would further undermine America’s confidence in our institutions and our democracy,” Rubio said in a statement.

“As a candidate, President Joe Biden promised to unify America, and even said he was ‘not a fan’ of packing the Supreme Court, a radical proposal he once referred to as a ‘bonehead idea’ when he served in the Senate,” Rubio said. “If he is sincere about healing our country and protecting our institutions, he will support this effort to protect the Supreme Court.”

West Virginia Sen. Shelly Moore Capito, another leader of the group, said, “A nine Justice court has worked for our country for more than 150 years. Increasing that number in a partisan effort to achieve a desired policy result is a never-ending proposition.”

Other Republicans cosponsoring the amendment include Sens. Kevin Cramer (North Dakota), Marsha Blackburn (Tennessee), Todd Young (Indiana), Mike Crapo (Idaho), Pat Toomey (Pennsylvania), Thom Tillis (North Carolina), Rob Portman (Ohio) and John Cornyn (Texas).