The Supreme Court recently released its December calendar of oral arguments. Normally, the justices hear 12 or more cases during this sitting, but this year, they have scheduled only eight — a calendar court commentators have called “bare-boned” and “anemic.”
[Source: Commentary: Just do your job, justices, by Eric J. Segall]
The liberal justices are carping. Justice Sonia Sotomayor has said publicly, “It’s much more difficult for us to do our job if we are not what we’re intended to be — a court of nine.” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has opined an eight-person court is “not good enough” to decide difficult and controversial cases such as the immigration and public union fee cases the justices divided 4-4 on last term.
Is the Supreme Court necessarily moving slower because of the “missing” ninth justice? Well, before you make your final decision, give the following some thought.
The court began with six justices, but expanded to nine in 1837. For a few years, from 1863 to 1866, it had 10. In any event, the Constitution gives Congress the job of deciding the size and jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.
The Court should not decide how much work is necessarily bypassed because there are only 8 members at present.