Media representatives have settled in front of the US Supreme Court building in Washington.
Al Drago | Reuters
President Joe Biden will instruct a bipartisan commission on Friday to investigate a number of potential reforms before the US Supreme Court, including the politically volatile question of whether the Supreme Court should expand.
The new commission, made up of dozens of legal scholars, will hold public meetings to “discuss different perspectives on the issues it will examine,” the White House said in a press release announcing the executive order.
The group will release a report within 180 days of its first meeting, the White House said.
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The decision marks the fulfillment of Biden’s election promise to convene a panel of experts to examine the myriad debates over the structure of the Supreme Court.
Then-candidate Biden had refused to explicitly rule out the idea of beating members on the nine-seat bench, which upset Republicans who opposed the president’s prospect of “court wrapping”.
Beyond the size of the Supreme Court, according to the press release, the commission will look at the “tenure and revenue” of judges, as well as issues as broad as the court’s role in the US constitutional system.
Judges who have been sustained on the Supreme Court serve life-long appointments, and the court’s opinions are decided by a majority.
Former President Donald Trump selected three associate judges in one term and swung the court’s ideological makeup sharply to the right. Trump’s final candidate, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, was sworn in just eight days before the election, which Trump lost to Biden.
The court’s solidly conservative 6-3 majority could last for years.
Biden, as a presidential candidate, had thought carefully about whether or not he would even have a debate about enlarging the court.
The death of the liberal icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg last September triggered a political firestorm. Trump and Republicans struggled to occupy their seat before election day, and Democrats called for the selection process to be delayed.
Ahead of the polls, the GOP warned that if elected, Biden would try to pack the dishes while the progressives are pressuring Biden to commit to doing just that.
In October, Biden said he was “not a fan of court packaging,” adding, “I don’t want to get off on this whole matter.”
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