Biden forms commission to tackle Supreme Court reform -- which may include expansion

Andrew Cummings
April 10, 2021

In launching the review, Biden fulfilled a campaign promise that came amid pressure from activists and Democrats to reshape the Supreme Court after its composition moved sharply to the right during President Donald Trump's term.

The confirmation process triggered outrage from many Democrats, who pointed to the US Senate Republican leadership's refusal to hold hearings for Obama's Supreme Court pick in early 2016, much less a vote, on grounds that it was too close to that year's November presidential election.

Liberals and likely many centrists who saw this as dirty politics by conservatives desperate for a 6-3 majority on the court are itching for the next fight and a return to a more balanced court, if not a liberal majority - which has not existed on the court in decades.

During the campaign, Biden repeatedly sidestepped questions on expanding the court.


"Of course, this is just another example of the liberal preference for attacking norms and institutions, rather than working within them", Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said.

"Topics it will examine include the genesis of the reform debate; the Court's role in the Constitutional system; the length of service and turnover of justices on the Court; the membership and size of the Court; and the Court's case selection, rules, and practices", the White House said. Breyer is 82. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was 87 when she died previous year.

"I'm sure he'll take a look at that report that this diverse group of members are putting together, thinking through for the next 180 days, and it will impact his thinking moving forward", Psaki said of Biden.

"This White House judicial reform commission has a historic opportunity to both explain the gravity of the threat and to help contain it". The panel includes experts on constitutional law, history, and political science, the White House added.


The 36-member commission will be co-chaired by former White House Counsel under President Barack Obama, Bob Bauer, who now serves as the Professor of Practice and Distinguished Scholar in Residence at New York University School of Law, and Yale Law School Professor Cristina Rodriguez, who previously served as deputy assistant attorney general in the DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel, also under Obama.

Editor's note: A previous version of this story erroneously said there were seven justices on the Supreme Court.

".The makeup of this commission which was vital for the President, there are progressives on the court, there are conservatives on the court". Conservatives, in turn, have denounced such ideas as "court-packing" similar to the failed effort by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s. "President Biden's commission demonstrates a strong commitment to studying this situation and taking action". Its launch comes amid speculation as to whether he will be able to put his own stamp on the court if liberal Justice Stephen Breyer retires.


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