On Friday, President Biden signed an executive order establishing a commission to study whether to add seats to the Supreme Court and other reform proposals, the White House announced, fulfilling a promise he made on the campaign trail. The executive action triggered anxious Republicans who are slamming the commission as “direct assault” on the judiciary.
The commission will be chaired by former White House counsel Bob Bauer and Cristina Rodríguez, a Yale law school professor and former deputy assistant attorney general, and largely consists of academics and former officials who served under both parties. The group will have 36 members in all and has 180 days from its first public meeting to complete a report on its work.
“The Commission’s purpose is to provide an analysis of the principal arguments in the contemporary public debate for and against Supreme Court reform, including an appraisal of the merits and legality of particular reform proposals,” the White House said in a release. “The topics it will examine include the genesis of the reform debate; the Court’s role in the Constitutional system; the length of service and turnover of justices on the Court; the membership and size of the Court; and the Court’s case selection, rules, and practices.”
While liberals hailed the move, Republicans cast it as an effort by Biden to revamp the country.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) slammed Biden’s action, saying in a statement that the growing calls from liberals to expand the high court marked “open disdain for judicial independence.”
“This faux-academic study of a nonexistent problem fits squarely within liberals’ years-long campaign to politicize the Court, intimidate its members, and subvert its independence,” McConnell said in a statement.
McConnell went on to accuse Biden of violating his vow to reduce political animosity in the country, saying such a commission would be divisive.
“President Biden campaigned on a promise of lowering the temperature and uniting a divided nation,” he said. “If he really meant it, he would stop giving oxygen to a dangerous, antiquated idea and stand up to the partisans hawking it,” he added.
“Make no mistake, this commission is simply another attempt by the Democrats to rewrite the rules — this time to expand the Supreme Court to a size sufficient to wash out the conservative justices appointed under President Trump,” said Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.).
“As Tennessee’s Senator, I vehemently oppose this effort to turn the Supreme Court and the federal courts into a rubber stamp for the Democrats’ activist agenda by overwhelming the bench with justices that will disregard the U.S. Constitution.”
“[W]hatever the commission says, the truth is that Democrats want to pack the Court to implement a leftist agenda that Americans don’t want,” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) tweeted.
I’m sure this commission of *26* legal experts will produce a fascinating law review article.
But whatever the commission says, the truth is that Democrats want to pack the Court to implement a leftist agenda that Americans don’t want. https://t.co/SKixbWKDnM
— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) April 9, 2021