Paul Lettow, U.S. Chamber Litigation Center
The U.S. Chamber has submitted a comment letter to the President’s Commission on the Supreme Court (“Commission”) that underscores the importance of preserving the Supreme Court—and the rule of law upon which the nation and its private sector depend— against a partisan push to expand the number of Supreme Court justices.
The mission of the Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court, which was established by the President, is to analyze and report on “the principal arguments in the contemporary public debate for and against Supreme Court reform, including an appraisal of the merits and legality of particular reform proposals.” Prominent among the proposals being advocated by some in the public debates is to increase the size of the Supreme Court substantially and immediately.
The U.S. Chamber’s public comment letter to the Commission addresses some of the history of the political branches’ approach toward the Supreme Court, demonstrating that the political branches have not often attempted to change the size of the Supreme Court, and on the extremely rare occasions when they have, the attempts have often backfired. The Court’s current number of nine justices has held for over 150 years. The last time the then-President tried to pack the court in 1937, members of his own party, which held super-majorities in both houses of Congress, repudiated his attempt on principled grounds. Current calls for Court-packing deserve the same fate.
Paul Lettow, an accomplished author, is Deputy Chief Counsel in the U.S. Chamber Litigation Center.