President Biden’s commission on the Supreme Court offered no opinion one way or the other on the possibility of the president appointing additional justices to the current nine.
The 34-member commission released its 288-page report Monday after six public meetings and the testimony of 44 witnesses.
The committee was formed in April, as part of a campaign promise by Biden, to study court expansion and reform. Biden himself was opposed to court packing before the commission was set up.
There have been calls from some in the Democratic Party to expand the court, facing a 6-3 conservative majority for the foreseeable future, including Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Representatives Jerry Nadler and Mondaire Jones of New York, who co-sponsored the 2021 Judiciary Act.
President Trump was able to fill three Supreme Court seats – two of them amid controversy, as the hearings were contentious over Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.
However, those members of Congress may be disappointed with the results of the commission, which did not offer any specific recommendations regarding court expansion.
Associate Justice Samuel Alito, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice John Roberts, Associate Justice Stephen Breyer and Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, (standing, from L) Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Associate Justice Elena Kagan, Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch and Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett currently make up the court
The United States Supreme Court in Washington, where Republicans have currently appointed six of the nine justices
President Trump confirmed three justices, including Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, who faced controversial hearings
Members of the commission said that the 44 members often disagreed profusely regarding additional justices. The report suggests this is similar to ‘the broader public debate.’
‘Given the size and nature of the Commission and the complexity of the issues addressed, individual members of the Commission would have written the Report with different emphases and approaches,’ a summary of the report read. ‘But the Commission submits this Report today in the belief that it represents a fair and constructive treatment of the complex and often highly controversial issues it was charged with examining.’
The commission suggested that ‘no serious person’ in either party believes court packing should be used to overturn disliked Supreme Court decisions.
‘The commission takes no position on the validity or strength of these claims,’ the report’s summary added. ‘Mirroring the broader public debate, there is profound disagreement among commissioners on these issues. We present the arguments in order to fulfill our charge to provide a complete account of the contemporary court reform debate.’
Back in April, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi effectively killed an upcoming Democrat proposal to expand the Supreme Court by four seats by saying Thursday she would not bring the bill to the House floor.
Christina M. Rodriguez, a co-chair of the Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court of the United States
Bob Bauer, White House Counsel to President Obama, was also a co-chair of the commission on the court
Democrats, led by Senator Ed Markey (at podium) unveiled a new bill Thursday, April 15 in front of the Capitol that would expand the Supreme Court from nine to 13 seats despite fellow Democratic leadership claiming they would not back the proposal
House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler said, ‘We’re not packing it, we’re unpacking it’, by arguing the bill would reverse the ‘unfair’ conservative majority created under Trump
The bid from a group of Democratic lawmakers would change the number of justices for the first time in 160 years and wipe out the conservative majority built under Donald Trump.
‘Do you support [Rep.] Jerry Nadler’s bill to expand the Supreme Court by 4 seats and would you commit to bringing that bill to the floor,’ a reporter asked the House Speaker at a press conference on Thursday.
‘No,’ she said.
House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, while unveiling the bill, explained Democrats are looking to reverse the conservative majority created under the last administration with the court packing bill.
‘We’re not packing it, we’re unpacking it,’ Nadler argued.
Pelosi said she backed the commission to look at expanding the Supreme Court Justice count, rather than bringing forward the current Democrat proposal.
‘I support the president’s commission to study such a proposal,’ Pelosi added. ‘But, frankly, I’m not – right now, we’re back, our members – committees are working putting together the infrastructure bill and the rest.’
‘I don’t know that that’s a good idea or a bad idea,’ she said. ‘I think it’s an idea that should be considered and I think the president’s taking the right approach to have a commission to study such a thing. It’s a big step. It’s not out of the question, it’s been done before in the history of our country.’
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other senior Democrats effectively killed their own party’s proposal to expand the Supreme Court by four seats before House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler’s announcement of the bill