Everybody who is anybody knows the U.S. Supreme Court currently has 9 members. But it doesn’t have to be that size. What is the largest the U.S. Supreme Court has ever been?
What the what!?!?!
How inaccurate was your prediction?
If you asked 100 people (not at a political science convention but in the mall) how big the Supreme Court was at its largest, how many do you predict would get the right answer?
What most surprised you about this data?
What is the smallest the Supreme Court has ever been?
What is the big story this chart tells?
Article III, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution states that, “The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.” Does that say anything about the number of members of the Supreme Court?
List one question you have about this chart.
The size of the Supreme Court is not fixed by the Constitution. It is determined by Congress. The original Judiciary Act of 1789 set the number of justices at six. What branch then, gets to determine the size of the U.S. Supreme Court?
Why has the number of justices changed over the years?
What is one consequence of a changing Supreme Court size?
Could the current Congress legally change the size of the SCOTUS?
Do you think they should?
During Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Presidency, many of his New Deal plans were blocked by the U.S. Supreme Court. Why didn’t Roosevelt just fire the Justices who consistently voted against him?
Tired of losing in the Court, President Roosevelt proposed the Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937 (known as the "court-packing plan") which gave the President power to appoint an additional Justice to the U.S. Supreme Court, up to a maximum of six. How would this “court packing” allow the president to more likely get what he wanted through the Supreme Court?
Many Democrats are now convinced that if a Democrat wins the presidency in 2020 (a big if), the Supreme Court (which is majority Republican) should be enlarged. Why would Democrats want to enlarge the size of the Supreme Court under a Democratic president?
Explain whether divided government would make a court packing plan more or less likely to succeed.
FDR’s court packing scheme was opposed by a coalition of Democrats and Republicans. Why do you think they worked together to stop the POTUS from enlarging the court?
Explain your opinion on whether you think Supreme Court Justices should serve for life.
How likely is it that one of your class members stands up in the middle of this class and sings The Star Spangled Banner. It would be disruptive, but it would be very patriotic. Think about it. How likely is it?
Unless you like rated-R movies, whatever you do do NOT read this super-short and fun-fun-fun, hilarious and heartwarming story that will certainly be made into a Rom-Com one day: Structural Reforms to the Federal Judiciary. Really, don’t- you’ll hate it!
These are the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Lindsey Graham (SC) - Chairman
Dianne Feinstein (CA) - Ranking Member
Contact the Senate Judiciary Committee member of your dreams and let them know what you think about enlarging the size of the Supreme Court.