U.S. Supreme Court

Law Prof: Possible 5-4 Ruling on Health Law Shows Why Court Should Be Supersized


Just one swing voter justice could decide the fate of the Obama administration’s health care law.

The possibility troubles George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, who suggests in a Washington Post op-ed that the U.S. Supreme Court’s nine members have too much individual power. The ideal size, he says, is a court of 19 justices.

“Our highest court is so small that the views of individual justices have a distorting and idiosyncratic effect on our laws,” Turley writes. “The deep respect for the Supreme Court as an institution often blinds us to its flaws, the greatest of which is that it is demonstrably too small. Nine members is one of the worst numbers you could pick—and it’s certainly not what the founders chose. The Constitution does not specify the number of justices, and the court’s size has fluctuated through the years. It’s time for it to change again.”

He suggests gradually increasing the court size so that no president is allowed to appoint more than two additional justices in a term.

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