Commission on Changing Supreme Court Skeptical About Adding Justices

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Preliminary documents issued on the eve of a public meeting assessing the merits of a term limit for judges, limiting the number of judges any president can name.

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Members of the commission are set to discuss draft materials, which argue in support of and oppose the court’s history and potential changes, including its size and length of service, and the turnover of judges. The commission said it received the testimony of 44 witnesses, written statements of 23 experts and 6,500 submissions of public comment.

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One of the discussion documents stated that members of the commission were divided as to whether it would be wise to expand the Supreme Court, with some expressing concerns that it would harm the court’s legitimacy and its role in the constitutional system. “There are significant reasons to doubt that the expansion will serve democratic values,” the document said.

Assessing the merits of the term limits for judges, the commission said they could “enhance the court’s legitimacy in the eyes of the public” and make Supreme Court appointments “fair, less arbitrary, and more predictable”. can.

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But the commission also said that term limits could destabilize the court, pointing to the possibility that they could lead to “more frequent in-principle changes, or even cycles in which the principal instances are is discarded only to be reinstated later.”

Earlier, the commission’s 16-member “Practitioners’ Committee”, made up of members who have debated more than 400 cases before the Supreme Court, appeared to express doubts over the extension of the court.

The committee, in a report filed in July by co-chairs Kenneth Geller and Maureen Mahoney, agreed that the current size of the court was appropriate and warned that increasing its size would “have functional drawbacks, especially if the addition of new seats is longer. That later led to the addition of more seats.”

The committee wrote in July that the majority believed the 18-year term limit, “to fill two seats for each president during a four-year term, requires serious consideration.”

During his campaign, Mr Biden said he would set up a bipartisan commission on the Supreme Court after facing criticism from Republicans, who warned he would allow members to offset the conservative 6-3 majority after the president. Adding would support Democratic proposals to “pack” the court. Donald Trump’s tenure.

Mr Biden set up the commission in April, accusing the panel of investigating various reforms. The commission is led by Bob Bauer, a former Obama White House attorney and top Biden campaign adviser, as well as Yale law professor Christina Rodriguez, a former Justice Department official in the Office of Legal Counsel. It includes top legal scholars, former federal judges and appellate lawyers who have argued before the court along with leaders of advocacy groups.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday that the commission would provide “an assessment … not a recommendation” to the president, with a final report in mid-November. The White House has said it has no input into the documents and Biden would not comment on the findings until a final report is received.

It is unclear whether Mr Biden will support any changes in response to the report. During his campaign, Mr Biden said the court system was “getting out of whack” but made no commitment to potential changes that he would support.

Four Democratic lawmakers criticized the report in a statement late Thursday. “The White House Commission on the Supreme Court ‘Draft’ missed the mark,” Sen. Edward Markey and House members Jerrold Nadler, Hank Johnson and Mondaire Jones said. “We need more than the commission report. We have to pass a law to extend the Supreme Court.”

Advocates for the extension of the court have said that the conservative majority is out of sync with the public and mainstream legal thinking. Proponents of term-limits say that lifetime appointments prevent the court from reflecting the wishes of the public and overwhelm some presidents. Critics say such moves would further politicize an institution that seeks to define itself apart from a partisan agenda.

Democrats have expressed anger that Republicans, who controlled the Senate at the time, refused to consider President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, now-Attorney General Merrick Garland, following the February 2016 death of Justice Antonin Scalia. done. Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) and Republicans then said that a vacancy arising in an election year should be filled by the next president.

But after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death in September 2020, Senate Republicans confirmed Justice Amy Connie Barrett a few days before the November presidential election, angering many Democrats who pushed for changes in the court if they won a majority. I had vowed to give.

While Congress’s power over the Supreme Court is limited, lawmakers can decide how many justices will act on it. When it first met in 1790, the court had six judges; Congress adjusted the number several times, most recently to nine in 1869.

A Supreme Court that repeatedly disrupted New Deal initiatives in the 1930s prompted President Franklin Roosevelt to propose legislation that would add one justice for every member over the age of 70, who had He would have been given a majority in the court.

That proposal was widely criticized, including by some fellow Democrats, and failed in Congress, but after Mr. Roosevelt’s agitation the court changed its approach and recognized broader federal authority to regulate the national economy. started giving

Ken Thomas at [email protected]

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