Biden’s Supreme Court commission releases final report

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The commission, tasked by President Joe Biden to study possible changes to the Supreme Court, has released its final draft report, which is cautious on proposals to extend the court and set possible term limits.

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The 36-member bipartisan commission was not charged with making recommendations under the order of the White House that created it. As a result, much of the group’s final report, composed largely of academics studying and hearing court reform, is context and history that can be used to advance proposals to introduce changes. Is.

The panel, led by Bob Bauer, who served as White House counsel for former President Barack Obama, and Yale Law School professor Christina Rodriguez, who served in the Office of Legal Counsel for Obama, cautioned that extreme change is likely. can erode democracy further. Line.


“Indeed, in recent years, we have seen democratic governments ‘back off’ or ‘withdraw’ with regard to judicial independence,” the court wrote in its report released on Monday. institutions, including the courts, to support the political agenda of those governments.”

The Supreme Court’s makeup has intensified after a six-week ban on abortion in Texas and last week’s debate on the Mississippi case, in which a 6-3 conservative-leaning court decided to either overturn or substantially roll back The will indicated abortion rights are enshrined in the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision and its 1992 ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which reaffirmed Roe. A decision is not expected for months.

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The commission’s review was a campaign promise made in response to pressure from activists and Democrats after the court’s composition leaned sharply on the right during former President Donald Trump’s tenure. He has largely avoided the subject since then.

Biden has repeatedly brushed off questions on the court’s extension during the presidential campaign, and has not said whether he supports adding seats or making other changes, including term limits. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Monday she had no timeline for how long it would take Biden to review the report or what would happen next.

“It is not a recommendation that he either accepts or denies,” she said. “He asked this diverse group of experts to look at and assess a range of issues – from the political spectrum, from the perspective spectrum – on a range of issues that have long been discussed and debated by court experts.”

Trump nominated three judges to the high court, giving it a 6-3 conservative majority. Democrats were particularly disappointed that the Republican-led Senate prevented Obama from filling a seat left vacant by the death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016. Then, with Trump in office, the Senate pushed Justice Amy Connie Barrett to confirm in court. The death of Liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in September 2020, weeks before the election.

This has led some progressives to call for changes, including adding seats on the court or setting term limits. Congress originally set the number of judges at six. Since 1869 this number has increased to nine.

An earlier report by the panel spoke positively about the possibility of a term limit for judges. The final report builds on this, devoting a section to exploring possible avenues to set term limits, discussing the possibility of judges retiring and allowing them a significant tenure before returning to a lower court. Is.

“Given the extensive public debate, there is intense disagreement among commissioners on these issues. We present arguments to support our allegation to provide a full account of the contemporary court reform debate,” the report said. .

It also discusses the role of the court in the constitutional system, judicial ethics, and whether the court should change its functions to be more public friendly. It specifically addresses the use of audio or video streaming of oral arguments, acknowledging that justices are largely opposed to video, audio streaming that began during the coronavirus pandemic, to help the public better comply. There might be a way to enable how it operates.

According to the report, “the commission does not intend to offer a consensus history of the conflicts of the past decades to the Supreme Court.” “Nor does it conclude whether the court has suffered or is at risk of legality. Commissioners hold very different views on these matters. ,

But there is a growing urgency on the part of some Democratic groups to make substantial changes.

“The court has irreversibly slipped into favor, and there is only one solution to that problem: Congress must add additional justice to the bench to restore confidence in the institution,” said Megan-Hatcher Mays, director of democracy policy at Indivisible. said.

He criticized the lack of recommendations. “The American people deserve better than this long-awaited yet deeply unhelpful list of pros and cons.”

Fix the Court, another group closely watching the commission, released its own blueprint, which outlines what it says is the clear change the public has said it wants.

“The path to a more open, more responsive Supreme Court is clear as day,” the FTC’s Gabe Roth said. “Term limits and accountability reforms are already hugely popular and have widespread support among liberals and conservatives. We just need to lead our leaders to implement them.”

Credit: / Supreme Court

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