Perdue Challenges Ossoff to Support Amendment Limiting Supreme Court Size to Nine

U.S. Senate candidate Jon Ossoff (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
September 24, 2020

Georgia Democrat Jon Ossoff has said he opposes efforts to pack the Supreme Court, but his Republican opponent is asking him to go a step further to prove he would not give in to demands from party leadership if elected.

Sen. David Perdue (R., Ga.) issued a challenge to Ossoff Wednesday to voice support for a constitutional amendment Perdue is co-sponsoring that would set in stone the number of Supreme Court justices at nine.

"We challenge Jon Ossoff to join Senator Perdue in supporting a constitutional amendment that would prevent the partisan expansion of the Supreme Court," Perdue campaign spokesman John Burke told the Washington Free Beacon. "Refusing to do so would further show the people of Georgia that Ossoff is nothing more than a spineless and desperate politician, more loyal to Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi than to his own state."

Ossoff's campaign did not respond to the Washington Free Beacon's requests for comment on whether he would support the proposed amendment. Perdue announced his cosponsorship on Tuesday following fresh calls from Democrats to expand the size of the Supreme Court as retaliation for Republicans filling Ruth Bader Ginsburg's seat. Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) first introduced the amendment last year.

Ossoff said this week he opposed court packing. Top Democrats such as Sen. Ed Markey (D., Mass.) and Sen. Mazie Hirono (D., Hawaii) announced support for expanding the Court this week, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) said "everything is on the table" next year if his party wins the White House and Senate.

In his statement of support for the amendment, Perdue said Democrats' support for adding additional justices is politically motivated.

"Senate Democrats are openly threatening to radically reshape our nation's highest court. They want to pack the Supreme Court with additional activist justices who will reinterpret the Constitution to fit their radical, socialist agenda," Perdue said.

The Judiciary Act of 1869, an act of Congress, set the Supreme Court's current size at one chief justice and eight associate justices. Adding a constitutional amendment is more onerous than passing a law; the former requires two-thirds majorities in both the House and Senate to propose it and then ratification by three-fourths of the state legislatures.

President Donald Trump will announce his nominee to fill Ginsburg's seat on Saturday, and Senate Republicans have the votes to proceed with the confirmation process.

Ossoff has never held office and is trying to be the first Georgia Democrat elected to a Senate seat since 2000. Perdue has maintained a narrow polling lead as the race enters its home stretch.