Now Biden’s time is up, the court is considering a rollback on abortion and a broadening of gun rights, and those calls are only getting louder.
The panel on Tuesday
“If President Biden wants to be taken seriously on this issue, he needs to put forward serious structural reforms,” said Sarah Lipton-Lubet, executive director of the liberal group Take Back the Court. “It’s been clear from the start that the commission wasn’t going to produce anything actionable. It’s equally clear that it simply cannot be the administration’s actual response to the crisis we’re facing.”
The commission’s report takes
The commission vote came less than a week after Supreme Court arguments in a Mississippi case
The abortion argument increased the appetite among Senate Democrats for major changes to the court, said Senator
“It would be the straw that broke the camel’s back after an enormous cascade of other terrible political decisions by the court,” Whitehouse said in an interview. He has been sharply critical of the court in recent years, saying conservative “dark money” is producing partisan rulings.
Still, Whitehouse himself isn’t calling for Congress to add seats to the court. “I’m very hesitant to get out ahead of my skis in that regard,” he said.
Guns and Abortion
Republicans transformed the court while
The justices are in the middle of a nine-month term that could produce sweeping constitutional changes. In addition to the Mississippi and Texas abortion cases, the justices are considering
Even so, Democrats would run a political risk by attempting to counter those decisions by adding seats to the court. Polls indicate voters oppose that, though a recent Marquette University Law School poll showed support growing in recent months.
“People understand that the Supreme Court is the last line of defense, protecting us from politicians taking away our rights to speak, associate, worship and protect ourselves,” said Mike Davis, president of the conservative Article III Project. “If the Democrats attempt to destroy that through court packing, I think it would lead to a tremendous backlash from the American people.”
The commission’s 288-page report points to “profound disagreement among commissioners” on court expansion. The report
Biden said during the presidential campaign he is “not a fan” of adding seats to the court. He promised before the election to appoint the commission and then gave the panel 180 days from its first public meeting to complete its work.
No Biden Timeline
White House Press Secretary
“He’ll have to review it first and I don’t think we’re going to set a timeline for what that looks like and what it will mean after that,” she said.
While Biden is a primary audience, the commission wrote the report with members of Congress and the general public in mind, a person familiar with the panel’s work said. Though readers will determine what additional steps are needed, the person said the document is the most comprehensive resource for someone looking to draft legislation to overhaul the court, since the report examines history, legal rationale and implementation issues.
The Constitution doesn’t say how many justices the court must have, but Congress has left the number at nine since 1869. The idea of adding justices hasn’t been seriously discussed since President
Adding seats would require an act of Congress -- something Republicans could easily block unless the Senate eliminates the filibuster.
The 34-member commission has a liberal tilt, all the more so after two conservative members
(Updates in third paragraph to reflect approval of report.)
To contact the editors responsible for this story:
© 2021 Bloomberg L.P. All rights reserved. Used with permission.