Courts not packed
January 28, 2021

When former President Donald Trump and Senate Republicans rushed through the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett right before November's election, then-candidate Joe Biden promised that if he won, he would create a bipartisan commission to study how to reform the Supreme Court and federal judiciary. Now that he has been sworn in as president, he's moving forward, staffing the commission and placing it under the aegis of the White House Counsel's office, Politico reports.

The commission will be co-chaired by Bob Bauer, Biden's campaign lawyer, and Cristina Rodríguez, a Yale Law School professor and alumna of the Obama Justice Department, Politico reports. Others named to the commission include Jack Goldsmith, a Bush Justice Department official who now teaches at Harvard Law School, and Caroline Fredrickson, former president of the American Constitution Society, Politico says. The panel will likely end up with nine to 15 members.

Bipartisan commissions are the "classic Washington, D.C., punt," Politico notes, and progressives who favor adding justices to the Supreme Court — an idea Fredrickson at least seems open to — and judicial term limits are not optimistic. "Commissions are often places where ideas go to die and there is no time on the clock to reform the court," said Aaron Belkin, director of the progressive group Take Back the Court. "The entire agenda of what needs to get done is in jeopardy thanks to stolen federal courts."

The White House told Politico only that Biden "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 weeks." Peter Weber

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