President Biden’s commission on doubtlessly increasing the Supreme Court held its first meeting Wednesday amid Democratic jitters over a just-accepted abortion case that will probably be heard by the bulk Republican-nominated justices.
The group of greater than three dozen students and activists convened through webcast for simply 21 minutes. The first meeting begins a 180-day window to provide a report evaluating reforms.
Biden beforehand opposed “court packing,” however he formed the commission in response to Democratic outrage over former President Donald Trump’s profitable nomination of three justices, which made the nine-person court extra conservative.
This week, progressive concern mounted when justices agreed to overview a 2018 Mississippi regulation that may ban abortions after 15 weeks of being pregnant, which might cowl a lot of the second trimester.
Commission co-chair Cristina Rodriguez, an Obama Justice Department and Biden transition alum, mentioned that the physique will work to “hear from a wide array of diverse voices” on reforming the Supreme Court.
Rodriquez, a Yale Law School professor, mentioned, “We’re not charged with making specific recommendations but rather we are to provide an evaluation of the merits and legality of particular reform proposals being debated today.”
But she added that “we are not just to summarize familiar arguments or rehash debates that are in academic literature or political or public commentary,” however as a substitute “we are to critically evaluate arguments and claims.”
The first meeting included a swearing-in of members and a dialogue concerning the scope of the overview.
Commission co-chairman and NYU Law professor Bob Bauer, who labored as White House counsel to President Barack Obama, mentioned, “we’re going to be encouraging a very broad public participation.”
The commission has a new dedicated page on the White House web site the place the general public can submit feedback.
“We encourage members of the public to submit their comments by August 15, 2021, to ensure that we have ample time in which to consider them,” Bauer mentioned.
Bauer mentioned there will probably be six extra commission conferences, two of which is able to function full days of testimony from consultants, with the first one anticipated in late June.
Although increasing the variety of justices is getting probably the most consideration, commissioners mentioned that there may also be a overview of imposing time period limits or a compulsory retirement ages, in addition to rising Congress’ energy to reverse Supreme Court rulings.
Commissioner Nancy Gertner, a retired federal decide and Harvard Law School professor, mentioned that the overview will embrace turning the Supreme Court right into a “lottery of judges” pulled from federal appeals courts for a given case.
Any effort to increase the scale of the court would set off intense partisan warfare in Washington and could also be unachievable attributable to Democrats’ naked 50-50 majority within the Senate, the place Vice President Kamala Harris breaks ties. Sixty votes typically are required for substantive laws.
Commission members embrace Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, and former Bill Clinton speechwriter Michael Waldman, president of the Brennan Center for Justice on the NYU School of Law.
Biden final 12 months pledged to create a court reform commission. But on the time, Biden mentioned that whereas he believed the Supreme Court was “getting out of whack,” he was “not a fan of court packing.”
In 1983, Biden mentioned that court packing was a “bonehead idea” when President Franklin D. Roosevelt tried it within the Thirties as a result of it undermined the court’s independence.