Republicans oppose what they call the Democrats’ plan to expand the Supreme Court
President Joe Biden on Friday set up an expert commission to study reforming the U.S. Supreme Court, including the highly debated issue of judicial expansion, Agence France-Presse reported.
There has been a vigorous debate in the U.S. for months over whether Democrats should expand the judiciary after former President Donald Trump managed to create a steady preponderance of conservatives over liberals on the country’s top court.
The Supreme Court is the final arbiter on fundamental legal issues, including the rights of various minorities and the LGBT community, racism, the death penalty, and election issues, and the justices are appointed for life.
Fulfilling his campaign promise, Biden signed an executive order creating a bipartisan commission of three dozen experts, including scholars and lawyers, former administration officials and former federal judges, to examine from all sides the crucial issue of Supreme Court reform.
One of the commission’s main tasks is to conduct “an analysis of the main arguments in the current public debate for and against Supreme Court reform,” according to a statement released by the White House.
The text of the decree establishing the commission does not mention the issue of a possible expansion of the court. However, the White House has previously said that experts would study “the length of service and turnover of judges; the composition of the Court and the number of judges; and case selection, judicial rules and jurisprudence.”
The president directed the commission to prepare a report within 180 days of its first meeting.
Commission members include Nancy Gertner, a federal district court judge from 1994 to 2011, and constitutional law expert Lawrence Tribe, a Harvard University professor who worked in Barack Obama’s administration, among others.
Republicans oppose what they call the Democrats’ plan to expand the Supreme Court.
“President Biden wants to radicalize the Supreme Court. Your rights are in jeopardy,” reads a tweet released by Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee.
This week, Justice Stephen Breyer, one of the liberal members of the Supreme Court, warned supporters of expanding the court that the move could reduce Americans’ confidence in the judicial system. Meanwhile, activists are advocating that Breyer, 82, who is the oldest member of the court, step down. This would allow President Biden to nominate a young and progressive judge.
Congress changed the size of the Supreme Court several times in the mid-nineteenth century. In 1863, for example, Republicans increased the number of justices to 10, allowing then-President Abraham Lincoln to nominate his appointee.
A few years later, the court’s size was reduced to seven, but in 1869 it was increased to nine. The composition of the court has remained unchanged since then.