President Joe Biden’s Supreme Court study commission bought him a year of cover from progressive calls to expand the court.
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 is set to vote Tuesday on a draft final report that, by design, makes no recommendations on the kind of fundamental changes liberals say are needed. Its completion means that Biden will face renewed pressure to try to neutralize the conservative-dominated court and its ambitious agenda, though it’s far from clear the president will yield to it.
The commission’s report takes no position on demands for expanding the court, establishing judicial term limits and curbing the high court’s power to invalidate legislation. It lays out pros and cons of some of those suggestions and discusses whether laws or constitutional amendments would be required to make those changes. The report does endorse the continued livestreaming of oral arguments and the adoption of an advisory ethics code for the justices.
“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 lays out arguments on both sides of the issue and says the commission “takes no position on the validity or strength of these claims.”
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.