HOUSTON — As Republicans and Democrats battle over the Supreme Court, there has been a lot of talk about court packing. So what is it?
Let's connect the dots.
Court packing basically means changing the number of Supreme Court justices, often in an effort to change the balance of power on the highest court in the land.
There is debate right now on whether lowering the number of justices counts as court packing. Some Democrats argue preventing hearings on Obama's final pick for a Supreme Court justice effectively reduced the number of justices on the court for close to a year.
Congress has the power to change it, but it's stay the same for 150 years.
A question at the core of this debate: is it legal? The short answer is yes.
The constitution does not set the number of justices on the Supreme Court.
Congress can change that number and has. Starting in 1789, the number of justices shifted several times in an effort to give the ruling party more power.
However, Congress set the number at nine following the Civil War and it has stayed that way ever since.
Franklin D. Roosevelt's famous attempt
Of course, just because it hasn't formally happened...that doesn't mean people haven't tried. The most famous example is Franklin D. Roosevelt.
In 1937, the Democrat floated a plan to have as many as 15 justices on the court. But this example is famous for how badly it failed.
The popular president faced a lot of opposition — even from his own party — and it was seen by many as a power grab.
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