After dodging questions for months about “packing” the Supreme Court — in other words, adding new seats to the bench in an effort to shift its ideological balance — then-candidate Joe Biden revealed in October that, if elected, he would establish a “bipartisan commission” to look into potential reforms to the federal court system, as Fox News reported.
Now, Biden seems to have just made good on that promise. According to Fox, the White House said Wednesday that it’d be moving forward with plans to establish a commission to “study” various reform options, which may include court-packing.
“The President remains committed to an expert study of the role and debate over reform of the court and will have more to say in the coming week,” the Biden administration said in a statement.
Biden’s “bipartisan” commission
Politico was the first to report that President Biden had already taken steps to create the purportedly bipartisan commission of experts, and had even nominated its first few members.
Politico cited “multiple people familiar with the discussions.”
The commission will reportedly include anywhere from nine to 15 members once fully established and will be housed within the White House Counsel’s office. It will be co-chaired by Biden campaign attorney Bob Bauer, as well as Yale Law School professor Cristina Rodriguez, a former deputy assistant attorney general in the Obama administration, according to Politico.
Also said to have already been nominated to the “bipartisan” commission was Caroline Fredrickson, former president of the progressive American Constitution Society, and Jack Goldsmith, a Harvard Law School professor who was formerly an assistant attorney general in the Bush administration.
Of course, it remains unclear what sort of reforms the group will suggest to the president, and if court-packing will indeed be one of them.
For what it’s worth, Biden had in the past seemed resistant to the notion of packing the court; he claimed on the campaign trail that was “not a fan” of the idea, according to Fox, and in 1983, the then-senator called it a “bonehead” idea unworthy of consideration.
As for his current commission, Biden first vowed to create such a group in an interview with CBS News in October.
“If elected, what I will do is I’ll put together a national commission, a bipartisan commission of scholars, constitutional scholars, Democrats, Republicans, liberals, conservatives,” the now-president said, according to Fox. “I will ask them to, over 180 days, come back to me with recommendations as to how to reform the court system because it’s getting out of whack.
“It’s not about court-packing,” he added. “There’s a number of other things that our constitutional scholars have debated, and I’ve looked to see what recommendations that commission might make… There’s a number of alternatives that go well beyond packing.”