Even nearly a year into his tenure, President Joe Biden has still managed to resist calls for court-packing among many in his party.
According to a new report from The Hill, however, Biden might not be able to dodge the issue too much longer — and whatever he decides, it may cost him at the ballot box.
Here’s the backstory
Former President Donald Trump had the opportunity during his four years in office to nominate three judges to the U.S. Supreme Court. He chose Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett, and their confirmations to the court shifted the balance of power, giving conservatives a 5–3 majority — 6–3 if one counts Chief Justice John Roberts — on the bench.
It was when Barrett ascended to the high court when those on the left really ramped up their calls to “pack” the Supreme Court.
There have been proposals to add four new seats to the Supreme Court bench, which has long sat at nine justices, so that President Biden has the chance to appoint four new liberal names who would preserve Democrats’ values.
Biden, however, hasn’t been on board with the idea. In fact, he has made comments that would suggest that he is against it.
Instead, he put a commission together earlier this year to study and produce a report on various potential reforms to the Supreme Court, including court-packing. But while that bought Biden time, the panel has now produced a report — and it didn’t provide many answers.
A look ahead
In fact, the report failed to take a side on the court-packing issue, which was said to have been hotly debated by members of the commission, Fox News reported. Now, Americans are turning to Biden to make the final call.
According to experts cited by The Hill, the issue will likely be at the forefront of voters’ and pundits’ minds as the SCOTUS considers numerous hot-button cases in the coming months, including ones challenging state-level abortion bans.
“The growing support for court expansion — with more than 10 times as many lawmakers signing on as when the commission started its work — may begin to create a new political reality that Biden will have a hard time ignoring altogether,” Samuel Moyn, a professor of jurisprudence and history at Yale University, told The Hill.
“And everyone knows that if the Supreme Court overrules Roe v. Wade, Biden’s own party or a popular outcry may force him to act,” Moyn added.
The problem for Biden is that this is a lose-lose scenario: If he comes out in favor of court-packing, he is sure to lose the support of moderates and independents. And if he comes out against court-packing, he is sure to lose the support of progressives in his party. Worse still, he needs to win over both if he wants to claim the White House again in 2024.