Live from Music Row Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed former Tennessee Attorney General Paul Summers to the show.
During the second hour, Summers discussed his project called The Keep Nine Amendment which would disable people from adding more judges to the Supreme Court. He also went into more depth about this amendment by explaining the definition of court-packing and why it’s detrimental to the country.
Leahy: We are delighted to be joined right now by the former attorney general for the state of Tennessee. One of the organizers of the Keep Nine Amendment project, Paul Summers. Welcome, Paul.
Summers: Thank you very much. Glad to be here.
Leahy: Well, we are delighted to have you here. You served as Tennessee Attorney General from 1999-2005?
Summers: I served from 1999 through 2006.
Leahy: 2006. Great. Great. And you are in private practice here in Nashville now?
Summers: I am. I’m in private practice. I work with a bank. And most importantly work with a non-profit called The Jason Foundation.
Leahy: The Jason Foundation is organizing the Keep Nine Amendment?
Summers: No. The Jason Foundation is organized in preventing and training people about the silent epidemic of youth suicide.
Leahy: Let’s talk about the Keep Nine Amendment. Let me read what it states. There are 27 Amendments to the constitution. The last one was ratified in 1992. This would be the 28th I guess if it were to in introduced into Congress and sent to the states for ratification. It reads simply this, “the Supreme Court of the United States shall be composed of nine justices.” That would be general Summers the shortest amendment to the Constitution I believe.
Summers: It would be the shortest and probably one of the most important amendments to the United States Constitution.
Leahy: Tell us why it would be one of the most important.
Summers: Most people including lawyers think that it’s set at nine. But before 1869 it vacillated between five and 10 justices on the Supreme Court. The Constitution is silent as to the number of justices. We are striving on a bi-partisan basis with former attorney’s general and other officials to set the constitution at nine justices to prevent the concept of court-packing.
Leahy: I know the last time this was attempted was in the 1930s when Franklin Delano Roosevelt tried to add four justices. It almost got there for various reasons. Because of the death of the Democrat Majority Leader who was pushing it got dropped. They don’t like the possibility of having a ninth justice confirmed whose more conservative and might make the court six, three. Its become very political. What are the negative things about court-packing?
Summers: Basically the negatives are, number one. Court packing-which is increasing or decreasing the number of justices could possibly be done just by a bill that was passed by the Congress and signed by the president at the present moment. But court-packing does lessen the independence of the court system.
Particularly the Supreme Court. It weakens the rule of law. It also dampens the checks and balances on abuse of power by our most important third branch of government known as the judiciary. Court-packing could either be increasing the number of justices or decreasing the number of justices so as to align with the political ideology of both the Congress and the president if they are both in power.
Leahy: And on your website, keepnine.org where you are urging people to take action by contacting Fox News anchor Chris Wallace. By the way, Chris Wallace has identified six topics for the upcoming debate on September 29th between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. One of those topics is about the Supreme Court.
You want people to take action to contact Wallace and ask this question. Will you endorse the Keep Nine Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which says that the Supreme Court of the United States shall be composed of nine justices. You want to have people ask Chris Wallace to ask that question on September 29. How do people do that?
Summers: They can contact the website for Fox News. They can contact Chris Wallace’s website. But most importantly they can participate in interviews like we are doing today to broadcast to our neighbors which will eventually get back to Chris Wallace. They can also call our number at the non-profit coalition to preserve the independence of the Supreme Court at 202-255-5000. And you can talk about how to get that question asked at the next debate.
Leahy: So they can get instructions as to what to do to elevate that question.
Summers: You have got it exactly right and we appreciate it.
Leahy: General Summers, I want to ask you a question. I want to invite you to an event. You are probably not aware of this but here at The Tennessee Star, we’ve been conducting a Constitution Bee for secondary students for three years. And we give away educational scholarships.
Leahy: We’ve expanded it this year. And on October 24 at the Springhill Suites-Marriott, we are conducting the very first National Constitution Bee from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The first place is a $10,000 educational scholarship. The second place is $5,000. And third place is $2,500. You can use it wherever you want, high school or college. I’m going to invite you to attend that event. We’d be delighted to have you there.
Summers: I just wrote it down.
Leahy: Alan Dershowitz is going to be addressing the kids by Zoom at that event.
Summers: Wonderful. This is much needed. Ironically I’m writing a series of articles regarding the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution for some of my local newspapers here in Tennessee which basically talk about the founding documents which are not taught in civics like they used to be in the 1970s.
Leahy: And by the way, we wrote a book called guidetotheconstitution.org. What else does keepnine.org plan to do after the debate on September 29? And we are going to work hard to get this question asked by Chris Wallace. What other things can people do?
Summers: Three to one all voters favor a Keep Nine type of amendment. Four to one among moderate and independent voters our polling indicates are in favor of this. This has been the situation or the law but not constitutional law since 1869. We want to make sure that the Supreme Court is independent.
Follows the rule of law and protects us from abuse of power from other branches of government. Now, what we can do even if the question is asked and even if the five to one all voters are in favor of the constitutional amendment there is a lot of work to do. The one thing is we have got to get it passed by the House and the Senate by a two-thirds vote in each House. Then we have to get it ratified by three-quarters of the United States.
Leahy: I think on that note that there is a lot of work to be done.
Listen to the full second hour here:
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