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Biden Supreme Court Panel Draft Leaves Progressives Unimpressed

Oct. 15, 2021, 12:39 AM

Progressive activists reacted with little enthusiasm for the draft findings presented by President Joe Biden’s panel considering potential changes to the Supreme Court.

The commission’s draft findings lean more toward favoring term limits for justices and increasing transparency around recusals than expanding its membership, the change progressives want most to blunt the court’s 6-3 conservative majority.

“This preliminary report is exactly what we knew it would be. It’s a mix between a book report and an extended explanation that different people have different feelings about Court reform,” said Molly Coleman, executive director of People’s Parity Project. “We know that real people are being hurt right now by the Supreme Court, and we know that the only way to alleviate much of that suffering is to expand the Supreme Court.”

Biden proposed the commission during last fall’s presidential campaign as he faced pressure from progressives to endorse court expansion. Activists have criticized the 36-member commission since its establishment in April, saying it was filled with academics who prefer the status quo rather than outside voices more likely to embrace radical change.

“This Commission was always going to be, at best, a waste of precious time,” said Sarah Lipton-Lubet, executive director of Take Back the Court. “But now the Biden Administration has gifted Republicans a propaganda document that uncritically repeats a slew of right-wing canards while downplaying the Court’s obvious decline into partisan warfare.”

Lipton-Lubet said that “instead of waiting another month for the commission to finish its academic exercise, President Biden should immediately announce a plan to protect his agenda and our democracy from the Court,”

VIDEO: Bloomberg Law examines what the Framers envisioned for the Supreme Court and the long history of presidents and Congress attempting to shape it to fit their political needs.

Dan Goldberg, legal director at the Alliance for Justice, said it’s not surprising that the document doesn’t make recommendations and weighs varying perspectives because that’s what they set out to do.

“What’s clear is that the commission has laid out the concerns of many regarding the current trajectory of the court and the assault on our rights,” Goldberg said. That analysis was aided by testimony from individuals who “made clear how dire the need for reform is” at the commission’s hearings, he said.

The commission is scheduled to discuss its findings Friday during a virtual meeting.

To contact the reporter on this story: Madison Alder in Washington at malder@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor on this story: Seth Stern at sstern@bloomberglaw.com

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