Republican Rep. Mark Green of Tennessee plans to introduce a constitutional amendment that would limit the number of justices on the Supreme Court, a direct response to Democratic presidential candidates who have proposed expanding the court, according to The Hill.
Several candidates seeking the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination have proposed or expressed an openness to increasing the number of Supreme Court justices, claiming that expansion would combat an alleged politicization of the courts.
"Schemes to pack the court are dangerous to the Founders' vision of an independent judiciary that serves as a check on both the Executive and Legislative branches of government," Green said in a statement.
The Constitution currently does not dictate how many justices are on the Supreme Court. The court has had nine justices since 1869.
Why do Democrats want to expand the Supreme Court?
The political conflict over the Supreme Court has steadily escalated since 2016, when Republicans blocked Judge Merrick Garland from getting a confirmation hearing after former President Barack Obama nominated Garland. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) believed that an outgoing president should not be allowed to appoint a justice.
Since then, President Donald Trump has appointed two justices, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, to the Supreme Court, shifting the ideological balance in a way that Democrats claim threatens the impartiality of the judicial branch.
"This central objective that is to prevent the Supreme Court from continuing on this trajectory to become basically ruined by being a nakedly political institution, this idea of adding justices is one way to do it," South Bend, Indiana, Mayor and Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg said on Pod Save America.
According to The Hill, Buttigieg and Beto O'Rourke want to give Republicans five justices and Democrats five justices, then have those 10 justices agree on five more justices to complete a 15-justice Supreme Court.
Other Democrats, like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) have accused Republicans of "stealing" Supreme Court seats, which she feels justifies a potential move to pack the court to favor Democrats.
"First they steal a Supreme Court seat, and then they turn around and change the rules on the filibuster on a Supreme Court seat," Warren said, according to Fox News. "So when it swings back to us, what are we going to do? I think all options are on the table."
Green said in his statement that he plans to introduce the amendment on Thursday.
"The Supreme Court must remain a fair and impartial branch of government not beholden to a party," Green said in the statement.