Marco Rubio, GOP senators make push to ban court packing
The Florida Republican reintroduces amendment to block court packing as former Attorney General Eric Holder calls on Democrats to flex ‘power’ of new majority. Jennifer Braceras, director of the Independent Women’s Law Center, with reaction.
President Biden is “committed” to following through on his campaign pledge of forming a bipartisan commission to study Supreme Court reforms, the White House said Wednesday.
Biden said in October he’d put together a bipartisan commission of scholars to send him recommendations within 180 days on how to reform a court system that’s “getting out of whack.” The White House said Wednesday Biden would be moving forward with the plans to study the federal judiciary.
“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 weeks,” a White House official told Fox News.
The commission was Biden’s response to progressive demands to expand the number of justices on the Supreme Court to overcome the 6-3 conservative majority, a practice known as “court packing.”
The White House declined to confirm a Politico story out Wednesday that said Biden is already staffing up his commission, with Biden’s campaign lawyer Bob Bauer and Yale Law School professor Cristina Rodríguez serving as co-chairs. The outlet also reported that Caroline Fredrickson, the former president of the American Constitution Society, and Jack Goldsmith, a Harvard Law School professor and a former assistant attorney general during the George W. Bush Administration, will also serve on the commission.
Since Biden’s election win and Democrats taking control of the House and Senate, progressives groups have doubled down on their demands to pack the court.
On Wednesday, eight progressive organizations banded together to form the “Unrig the Courts” coalition to pressure Democrats to use their power to act. Their four demands are expanding the number of justices on the Supreme Court, expanding lower federal courts, enacting term limits for Supreme Court justices and improving ethics and transparency requirements for justices.
“The Supreme Court has become too partisan and too political, and with a united Democratic government, the time to act is now,” Demand Justice Executive Director Brian Fallon said in a statement Wednesday. “The 6-3 Republican-appointed majority consistently sides with Republican politicians and corporate interests over the American people, and we must act before they rig the rules of our democracy even further.”
Biden previously had been cool to the idea of court packing, saying he’s “not a fan” of the practice.
During an interview with CBS News’ “60 Minutes” in October, Biden laid out his vision for the commission and for “alternatives” to packing.
“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,” Biden said. “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 continued. “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.”
Shortly before that interview, Fox News uncovered Biden’s more outspoken take on the issue back in 1983, calling it a ‘bonehead’ idea.
Biden, then a U.S. Senator from Delaware, made the comments during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in July 1983 regarding nominations to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. At the time, Republican President Ronald Reagan had stoked controversy for attempting to replace three members of the commission.
“President Roosevelt clearly had the right to send to the United States Senate and the United States Congress a proposal to pack the court. It was totally within his right to do that. He violated no law. He was legalistically, absolutely correct,” Biden, then 40, told the committee. “But it was a bonehead idea. It was a terrible, terrible mistake to make. And it put in question, if for an entire decade, the independence of the most-significant body … in this country, the Supreme Court of the United States of America.”
Fox News’ Evie Fordham and Bradford Betz contributed to this report.
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