COLUMBUS — Saying a plan to increase the number of justices on the U.S. Supreme Court would question the court’s legitimacy, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has called on Congress to ignore any potential legislation that would expand and politicize the court.
Yost joined a growing group of attorneys general from around the country criticizing what they see as an attempt at “court packing” and throwing their support behind the bipartisan Keep Nine amendment currently in the U.S. House.
“The Court’s orders are followed because the Court is seen as legitimate – even when we don’t like a particular decision. Tampering with the Court to drive political outcomes will dismantle that legitimacy,” Yost said Thursday in a news release. “I support the Keep Nine amendment because it will forever take the threat of Court packing off the politicians’ table – Republicans or Democrats – and protect the court from politics.”
The Judiciary Act of 2021 was introduced in Congress on Thursday, and President Joe Biden announced last week a commission to study the possible expansion of the court from its current nine justices.
U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said the commission was political and packing the Supreme Court with more justices was dangerous.
“What started as a study commission announced by the president less than a week ago has quickly turned into a partisan attempt to substantially alter one of government’s most important institutions and a significant part of an entire branch of government,” Portman said. “Packing the Supreme Court with more justices simply to try to dictate preferred policy outcomes is dangerous, and I hope Congress avoids going down this path.”
Portman cosponsored a constitutional amendment in the fall that would prevent adding to or removing from the current number of justices.
The Keep Nine Amendment would add 13 words to the U.S. Constitution: “The Supreme Court of the United States shall be composed of nine Justices.”
The current number of nine is set by federal statute and was established in 1869. Yost said two court packing proposals have appeared over history and each were defeated.
“We are very proud to have Attorney General Yost’s support for the Keep Nine Amendment to ban Court packing and we welcome his leadership in the critical fight to preserve an independent U.S. Supreme Court,” said Roman Buhler, director of the Keep Nine Coalition.