Although President Joe Biden may have managed to dodge the issue of packing the Supreme Court by appointing a commission to study the issue, some experts say his time may be running out to avoid taking a stand on so-called “court reform” one way or the other, The Hill reports.
Professor of jurisprudence and history at Yale University, Samuel Moyn, said adding justices to the Supreme Court is the current favorite policy objective of progressives, and that if the Supreme Court rules to limit or overturn Roe v. Wade, the pressure will become much more intense.
The commission ended up being non-conclusive, which does not help Biden much in making a decision on what avenue to pursue.
The left has been up in arms about the conservative makeup of the Supreme Court since taking control of the House, Senate and presidency in January. It is the only thing that can curtail their power (other than a few moderate Democrat senators, apparently).
Another Manchin obstruction?
Speaking of moderate Democrat senators, Biden would need to convince Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) to go along with court-packing for it to pass legislatively, and Manchin has previously indicated that while he may be open to some reform of the court, he doesn’t favor adding justices to the high court outright.
Term limits for Supreme Court justices is another proposal that splits the difference between adding justices and allowing the court to remain as it is.
The current 6–3 conservative majority may take years to shift back in a Democrat direction, which means a check on Democrat’s power that they don’t want or think they can afford.
The midterm elections in 2022 will likely mean the end of the Democratic monopoly on the current majority of power in Congress, so the window is rapidly closing on making changes to the court.
“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,” Moyn said. “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.”
In the year since he has been in office, Biden has largely gone along with the progressive policy agenda espoused by the party’s radicals, so it would not be a surprise to see that happen again with court-packing.
The showdown could cause some support to shift back toward Democrats as the midterms near.
Currently, Republicans hold at least a six-to-nine point advantage over Democrats in the generic congressional ballot–a highly unusual situation a year before a midterm election.