Video source: YouTube, CBS4 Indy
President Joe Biden signed an executive order Friday that creates a bipartisan commission to study several Supreme Court reforms, including expanding the number of seats on the court and implementing term limits for justices.
The 36-member Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court of the United States will spend six months examining the court’s role in the constitutional system, the length of service and turnover of justices and the court’s case selection, rules and practices.
According to the White House, the commission will study the debate for and against making Supreme Court reform, holding public meetings to solicit opinions from outsiders and providing a report after 180 days.
It is unclear if the commission will provide recommendations to Biden, or simply analysis of the arguments for and against reform.
Among the questions the commissions will examine are whether the number of justices should be increased, if there should be limits on how long a justice serve or age limits and whether or not there should be changes to the nomination and confirmed process.
Bob Bauer, a New York University School of Law professor and former White House Counsel, and Cristina Rodriguez, a Yale Law School professor and former deputy assistant attorney general at the Department of Justice, will co-chair the commission.
Among the commissioners are constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Sherrilyn Ifill, Brennan Center for Justice president Michael Waldman and voting rights expert Michael Kang.
In launching the review, Biden fulfilled a campaign promise to study the court system after its composition shifted sharply to the right during Donald Trump’s term. While in office, Trump nominated three justices, giving conservatives a 6-3 majority over liberals on the court.
One of those seats was filled by Neil Gorsuch, who was nominated after Republicans blocked former President Barack Obama's nominee, Merrick Garland, for nearly a year. Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed after a contentious hearing amid accusations that he had sexually assaulted Dr. Christine Blasey Ford when they were in high school. Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed to the court just days before the 2020 election, after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Biden has not said definitively whether he supports adding seats to the court or making changes to the current system of lifetime appointments, but he has stated he believes the system of judicial nominations is “getting out of whack.”
The Supreme Court has had nine members since 1869 and any changes to the number of justices would require congressional approval.
Justice Stephen Breyer, the court’s oldest member and the senior member of its three-justice liberal wing, warned earlier this week that efforts to expand the court’s bench could damage public faith in the institution, stating that Americans rely on “a trust that the court is guided by legal principle, not politics.”
Breyer has been under pressure from some Democratic quarters to retire so that President Biden can appoint a replacement. An advocacy group called Demand Justice, led by Brian Fallon, a former top aide to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, launched a campaign on Friday for Breyer to retire immediately and for Biden to appoint the first Black woman to the Supreme Court.
Source: Equities News