The President’s Commission on the Supreme Court presented a preliminary report on Thursday, Oct. 14. It can be seen that its members are divided on increasing the number of justices on the highest court or keeping it as it has been so far.
In April, a group of liberal Democrats in Congress introduced a bill to expand the number of seats on the U.S. Supreme Court from nine to thirteen.
The fear from liberal quarters stems from the belief that a conservative court poses a threat to the progressive conception of the Constitution on a wide variety of issues, including the imposition of gender ideologies, LGBT rights, health care, and anti-“climate change” policies.
Criticism soon followed, claiming that the intention behind the push presented by the legislators is to forcibly “fill” the court with members sympathetic to leftist interests, to monopolize power in the highest court, and more easily impose their political purposes.
The strong pressure exerted by the most liberal sectors of the Democrats to expand the number of Supreme Court justices prompted President Biden to create an internal commission to prepare a detailed report to evaluate the situation and make recommendations.
The Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court released its first report on Thursday. Contrary to what was expected, it was not forceful in its response but rather evidenced that there are different positions within the commission.
While not determinative, the report suggests that an expansion of the court is unlikely to achieve balance and instead recommended rotating justices.
“There are also reasons to doubt that Court expansion necessarily would produce benefits in terms of diversity of efficiency,” the Commission said in the report. “There is no guarantee that a larger Court would be drawn from a more diverse group of individuals. And a larger court may be less efficient than the current complement of justices.”
The commission also noted other issues involved in a possible court expansion, including a recent poll indicating that society mostly does not favor expansion. It also noted that expanding the court could lead to a “continuous cycle of future expansions,” generating further public distrust of the judicial system.
“To be sure, any Supreme Court Reform would likely require unified government,” the report says. “Nevertheless, we believe it is important to recognize the risk. According to one [purportedly modest] estimate of the consequences of expansion as parties gain Senate majorities and add Justices, the Supreme Court could expand to twenty-three or twenty-nine Justices in the next fifty years, and thirty-nine or possibly sixty-three Justices over the next century.”
One idea put forward by the commission as an alternative to expanding the number of justices is to establish a rotation system, which would allow justices to rotate more frequently and not remain until their last days of life serving on the Supreme Court and lower federal courts, as is often the case today.
The commissioners appear to support the arguments for establishing term limits for judges or rotating judges between the Supreme Court and lower courts. However, they also added potential drawbacks to a rotation system, primarily associated with increased inefficiencies and bureaucracy.
As demonstrated in the first report, there is no strong consensus among the commissioners, which creates further uncertainty about how the Biden administration will react to this tension of powers.
A second report is expected to be presented by the commission on Friday.