Biden Sets Up Supreme Court Panel to Study Adding More Justices, Term Limits

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President Joe Biden on Friday named a panel to study reforms to the U.S. Supreme Court, such as adding justices or instituting term limits, fulfilling a campaign vow as progressives push to add more liberals to the conservative-leaning court.

Liberal activists have been urging an expansion of the Supreme Court to offset the 6-3 conservative majority created by three appointments by former President Donald Trump. The right-wing tilt has opened the possibility the court could overturn the constitutional right to abortion and roll back gay rights, though so far the justices have moved slowly on those issues.

The White House announced Friday that Biden will sign an executive order to form the Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court. Biden named a bipartisan group of law professors, former judges and others familiar with the legal system and asked them to issue a report within 180 days of first meeting.

Chairing the panel are Bob Bauer, a New York University law school professor and former White House counsel and Yale Law School Professor Cristina Rodriguez, former deputy assistant attorney general at the Justice Department.

Among the issues the commission will look at are “the court’s role in the Constitutional system,” turnover and length of service, and how the court selects cases.

The Constitution doesn’t say how many justices the court must have, but Congress has left the number at nine since 1869. The idea of adding justices hasn’t been seriously discussed since President Franklin Roosevelt unsuccessfully pitched a court-packing plan to Congress in 1937.

On Tuesday, Justice Stephen Breyer said that packing the court could undermine public trust. Breyer, a Democratic appointee and the oldest justice, has become the center of speculation that he might retire in the coming months and give Biden his first high-court vacancy to fill.

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