Tillis Sponsors Amendment On SCOTUS Justices. Is There More To It?

Tillis Sponsors Amendment On SCOTUS Justices. Is There More To It?

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) introduced a constitutional amendment earlier this week. The amendment, if ratified, would place a cap on the number of Supreme Court justices at nine. All of the amendment’s sponsors are Republicans, including Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC). Tillis sponsors the SCOTUS amendment, but is it just a political ploy?

Cruz proposed the amendment as a response to a couple of statements made by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA). Markey said expanding the court and ending the filibuster might be considered if Judge Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed. Schumer said that nothing “would be off the table” when it came to proposals.

“Their proposals are dangerous and would give them free rein to appoint radical judges who would legislate from the bench, threatening the religious liberty and Second Amendment rights of North Carolinians,” Tillis said in a news release on his official Senate website. 

Tillis says he is “proud to co-introduce these proposals to stop Chuck Schumer’s radical liberal agenda and maintain the integrity of the Supreme Court.”

Tillis sponsors SCOTUS amendment, but is it just politics?
Photo by Claire Anderson on Unsplash

Tillis Sponsors Amendment on SCOTUS to Limit Number of Justices

Can senators actually increase the number of SCOTUS justices? Yes. Nothing in the Constitution says the Supreme Court must have only nine justices.

The Supreme Court had only six justices in 1789, and it has expanded multiple times, according to The National Constitution Center. The Court has had nine justices since 1869, and no attempts have been made to expand the court since 1937.

For the amendment to be ratified, it needs to receive at least a two-thirds vote in both houses of Congress and be ratified by three-fourths of the states’ legislatures. Calling such a vote a long shot would be an understatement at this point.

Tillis’ Decision to Sponsor the Amendment on SCOTUS Comes as Republicans Trail in Polls in Key Toss-Up States

In case you haven’t heard, Tillis and Democrat candidate Cal Cunningham are locked in a tight race for one of North Carolina’s Senate seats. And Tillis is just one of four cosponsoring senators up for reelection this year. 

Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) and Tillis all trail in the polls in their respective races. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) has a sizeable lead over her opponent.

Polls, as we know, are just snapshots in time and are not reliable when it comes to predicting results.

Is Tillis' decision to sponsor the SCOTUS amendment just politics?
Image courtesy of Andy Feliciotti on Unsplash.

So, could all of this be a political ploy? Perhaps.

Senator Tillis has a History to Trying to Amend a Constitution

This is not Tillis’ first go round with amending a constitution. Though he was not a cosponsor, Tillis was the Speaker of the House in the N.C. General Assembly in 2012 when North Carolinians voted in favor of Amendment One.

The amendment defined marriage in the state as “one man and one woman.”

The amendment was on the ballot on May 8, 2012, during that year’s presidential primary elections, and it passed the statewide vote by a wide margin. Amendment One, however, was overturned in 2014 by federal courts.

It is still part of North Carolina’s state constitution.