Supreme Court commission releases first look at report on potential reforms

Washington DC – A bipartisan commission to study possible Supreme Court reform has released a first look at its upcoming report, which covers everything from court expansion to term limits for justices.

Activists have demanded Biden make structural changes to the US Supreme Court, including suggestions to add more justices or institute term limits (stock image).
Activists have demanded Biden make structural changes to the US Supreme Court, including suggestions to add more justices or institute term limits (stock image).  © 123RF/sepavo

Biden tasked the 36-member commission, comprised mostly of academics, with studying court reform – not with coming up with recommendations for change, the Associated Press reported.

The body was created earlier this year as Biden faced public pressure to respond to the new 6-3 conservative majority in the court following Trump's successful nomination of Amy Coney Barrett just weeks before the 2020 election.

The commission has been reviewing and compiling a history of the court as well as holding hearings. They released a nearly 200-page draft of their report Thursday night.

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In it, they shy away from proposals to add more justices to the court. They wrote that expanding the court could add more diversity to the decision-making body while also running a "considerable" risk of reducing its perceived legitimacy.

But they do devote a significant portion of their report to term limits for justices, saying the suggestion seems to have "the most widespread and bipartisan support."

During their literature review, they reportedly "discovered few works arguing against term limits" and noted that the US is the "only major constitutional democracy in the world that has neither a retirement age nor a fixed term of years for its high court Justices."

Biden himself has been hesitant to commit to court reform, saying he would not speak out on suggestions for change until the commission has completed its work.

But even with the final results, it's unclear whether the president will pursue structural changes to the court ahead of the 2022 midterms – if at all.

The commission's final report is expected to reach Biden's desk in about a month.

Cover photo: 123RF/sepavo

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