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Monday, January 24, 2022

Biden Commission takes no position on Supreme Court packaging

President Joe Biden’s committee to review possible changes in the Supreme Court on Tuesday said it would not support the addition of seats in the country’s highest court.

The 34-member panel stated in the draft final report (pdf) that it “takes no position on the validity or strength” of the arguments of opponents and supporters of the enlargement proposals, adding that “there is deep disagreement among the commissioners on these issues. questions.”

A neutral position was taken on other controversial proposals, for example, regarding the limitation of the terms of office of judges, who are currently appointed for life.

On the other hand, the commission expressed its opinion on several aspects of the court.

For example, panelists suggested that the benefits would outweigh the risks if live audio recordings of Supreme Court proceedings were still allowed.

The commission was created by Biden in April. At the time, he said he would like the commission to provide a history of the Supreme Court’s role, including an account of “contemporary commentary and debate” about that role, as well as an analysis of the main arguments for and against adding seats.

The panelists were scheduled to meet on Tuesday to approve the report and write a letter to Biden about their findings.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Some Democrats have pushed for an increase in court size in recent years, outraged by a string of Republican nominations.

Former President Donald Trump was able to appoint only three judges, including filling a vacancy that former President Barack Obama was trying to fill. Obama was blocked by the Republican-controlled Senate, which decided to let whoever won the 2016 election take his seat.

Republicans are almost unanimous in opposing the expansion of the court.

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Since 1837, nine seats have been installed. Attempts by Democrats to expand it in the 1900s failed, as did an attempt to secure nine seats in the court with a constitutional amendment.

Modern advocates of an enlarged judiciary believe the “norms” were violated by the Senate’s refusal to consider Obama, despite being a senator. Joe Biden’s call to do the same should a vacancy arise in an election year, the committee said in a report.

“Other supporters of enlargement consider it important to prevent the ongoing undermining of our democratic system of government, which, in their opinion, is exacerbated by judicial practice,” they wrote.

The addition of seats could also improve the efficiency of the court, as it is designed to tackle important issues, the commissioners said.

Opponents of packaging to the court say a series of recent nominations reflect the election results, and note that Republicans have not broken any rules by refusing to consider Merrick Garland.

“Critics of the enlargement of the courts fear that such an effort will pose a significant risk to our constitutional system, including by the fact that parties that can simultaneously take control of the White House and Congress will regularly add judges to bring the court more in line. with their own ideological principles. positions or party political goals, ”they added.

The key issue is maintaining public respect for the court. Even some opponents of the court agree that it is better to avoid putting things in court in order to try to maintain “long-term legitimacy and independence,” the commission members said.

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Zachary Stieber covers US news and articles related to the COVID-19 pandemic. He lives in Maryland.

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