After former President Donald Trump successfully appointed three U.S. Supreme Court justices and cemented a clear conservative majority on the bench, many progressive activists began calling for additional seats to be added to the high court.
President Joe Biden set up a special commission to study the issue and it recently expressed some “profound disagreement” among its members regarding any such court-packing scheme.
“Serious violations of norms”
As the New York Post reported, the commission made it clear in its executive summary that it “takes no position on the validity or strength” of arguments for expanding the court, noting that “there is profound disagreement” on such issues among members of the bipartisan panel.
The latest update did, however, include a seemingly sympathetic take on the prospect of implementing term limits on Supreme Court justices.
Biden initially tasked the commission with determining whether packing this court is a smart move. As the Washington Examiner explained, public support for the concept has been on the decline in the months since then.
In its draft, the panel determined that the argument for court-packing relates a perceived need “to address serious violations of norms governing the confirmation process and troubling developments in the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence,” thus threatening to undermine American democracy.
On the other hand, those arguing against it insist it would “significantly diminish” the Supreme Court’s “independence and legitimacy and establish a dangerous precedent that could be used by any future political force as a means of pressuring or intimidating the Court.”
“Express protection of judicial independence”
Members of the commission also explored the viability of limiting the number of Supreme Court appointments one president can make and restrictions on the type of jobs retired justices may accept, among other ideas.
As for term limits, the report found that the argument against them is that they would “weaken the Constitution’s express protection of judicial independence.”
In addition to the issues of term limits and court-packing, the commission has studied various other proposals for possible court reform.
Members reportedly set a date this week to discuss the matter and vote on whether to send the draft report to the White House.
Although support for packing the Supreme Court might be down in recent months, the conservative majority has been under increased pressure from progressives as justices consider a landmark case in the ongoing debate over abortion rights.