Joe Biden is setting up a bipartisan commission to consider reforming the U.S. Supreme Court, including expanding the bench beyond its current panel of nine judges.
On Friday, the president kept his election promise by issuing an executive order forming the expert commission, comprising lawyers, former federal judges, lawyers and reform supporters.
The White House said the group’s aim was to “provide an analysis of the main arguments in contemporary public debate for and against Supreme Court reform.” The decree ordered the commission to publish a report on its findings within six months.
The commission marks a significant development for liberal supporters of expanding, or “packing,” the Supreme Court with additional judges, as well as for those who want term limits placed on judges.
The US Constitution gives Congress the power to determine how to organize the court, although the size of the bench has been set at nine since the late 19th century. Under the current rules, Supreme Court justices are appointed to the bench for life, unless they choose to retire.
Biden has not said in recent years whether he would personally support expanding the court or instituting term limits for judges, although he told CBS News last year that the justice system was in. being “unleashed”. Earlier in his career, Biden, a former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, opposed the judicial wrapping.
Calls to expand the country’s highest court gained momentum last year after Donald Trump appointed Conservative Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the bench following the death of Liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Barrett was confirmed by the US Senate days before the November presidential election. The move was criticized by Democrats, given then Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the bench months before the 2016 election.
Barrett was Trump’s third short Supreme Named after Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, and her confirmation cemented the Tories’ grip on the pitch. Six of the current nine judges have been appointed by Republican presidents.
Progressives have called on Stephen Breyer, who at 82 is the oldest judge ever to be appointed by a Democratic president, to step down so Biden will appoint a liberal successor and have that person confirmed by the Senate, which Democrats now control by the narrowest of margins.
When asked if Breyer should step down, Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, said on Friday: “[The president] believes that this is a decision Justice Breyer will make when he decides it is time to stop sitting on the Supreme Court.
McConnell criticized Biden’s announcement on Friday, calling it “a direct assault on our country’s independent judiciary and yet another sign of the far left’s influence over the Biden administration.”
Breyer earlier this week warned against reforming the court for political reasons, in a speech broadcast live at Harvard Law School, saying, “I hope and hope the court retains its authority.”
“But that authority, like the rule of law, depends on trust, a trust that the court is guided by legal principles, not politics,” Breyer added. “Structural change motivated by the perception of political influence can only fuel that perception, further eroding that trust.”