Biden panel wary of Supreme Court expansion, but open to term limit
WASHINGTON — Proposals to expand the size of the Supreme Court are facing skepticism from some members of the commission that President Biden appointed to consider overhauling the federal judiciary. But there is something close to a consensus that imposing tenure limits on judges is worth exploring.
The commission’s work was reflected in the nearly 200-page draft discussion material released on Thursday. The Commission cautioned that the material was created by working groups to aid in their deliberations and was not a reflection of the recommendations or its views.
Nevertheless, the material indicated different evaluations of the two most discussed proposals to change the structure of the Supreme Court.
“Commissioners are divided on whether an extension of the court would be wise,” said a draft letter. “The risks of the Court’s extension are substantial, in that it could undermine some of its proponents’ goal of restoring the Court’s legitimacy.”
“Recent polls show that the majority of the public does not support the extension of the court,” the newspaper said. “And as some proponents of the court’s expansion acknowledged during the commission’s public hearing, the reform – at least if it was done in the near term and all at once – would be perceived by many as a partisan ploy. “
In a recent interview, Justice Stephen G. Breuer said he was wary of increasing the number of judges, saying doing so could undermine public confidence in the court, sending the message that it is a political institution at its core.
“Think twice, at least,” he said of the proposal. “If A can do, so can B. And what do you have when you’re doing A and B?”
Another working group’s second draft paper, on the imposition of limit on the tenure of judges, took a different tone.
“Of the proposals for reform of the Supreme Court, the term limits for Supreme Court judges enjoy the widest and bipartisan support,” the paper said.
“A bipartisan group of experienced Supreme Court practitioners testified before the commission that the 18-year term limit warrants ‘serious consideration,'” it said, adding Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Breyer and Elena Kagan. For “Looking at the potential benefits of term limits.”
What to know about the tenure of the Supreme Court
A blockbuster term begins. The Supreme Court, now dominated by six Republican appointees, returns to the bench this fall to begin a crucial period in which it will consider scrapping the constitutional right to abortion and expanding gun rights.
Progressive groups expressed their dismay at the overly cautious approach of the Commission.
“It wasn’t even close to being worth the wait,” said Brian Fallon, executive director of Demand Justice. “The paralysis-by-analysis reflected here is exactly what you would expect from a commission made up of mostly academics, including many staunch conservatives who are completely satisfied with the status quo.”
Conservative groups took the opposite view, saying the commission was too aggressive.
Kelly Shackelford, president of the First Liberty Institute, said, “The far-left progressives are clearly trying to expand their political power under the guise of ‘court reform,’ destroying the independence of our judiciary and the rights of all Americans.” jeopardizing civil liberties.”
The commission’s final report is due on November 14.
The two main proposals have different kinds of constraints, the draft papers said. Although the narrow majority of Democrats would make a hard road for any proposal to replace the court, Congress is free to expand the membership of the court, and has repeatedly changed its size. But enforcing the term limit is more complicated, and many scholars believe it would require a constitutional amendment.
“Commission members are divided as to whether Congress has the power to create a term limit system by statute,” the draft material said. “Some believe it is possible; Others believe that any legal system would be faced with so many constitutional problems that it would be unwise to proceed in this way. “
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