On Friday, President Biden issued an executive order forming the Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court of the United States. Biden ordered the formation of the commission to study potential changes to the Supreme Court amid calls from many liberals to reform the Court. Under the executive order, membership of the commission is to be “constitutional scholars, retired members of the Federal judiciary, or other individuals having experience with and knowledge of” the Supreme Court and the US judicial system.
The vast majority of the 36 members are law professors and scholars. The bipartisan panel members represent expertise in “constitutional law, history and political science.” A statement by the White House stated that the purpose of the commission is “to provide an analysis of the principal arguments in the contemporary public debate for and against Supreme Court reform, including an appraisal of the merits and legality of particular reform proposals.”
Following the commission’s first public meeting, the body will have 180 days to submit a report to President Biden to detail its findings. The commission has instructions to solicit public comment and hold meetings that are open to the public.
Many liberals are calling for President Biden to expand the Court through court-packing, an issue that the commission will be analyzing. Other calls implore Justice Stephen Breyer, the oldest Justice on the Court, to retire so that Biden may nominate a successor. President Trump’s three appointed Justices shifted the Court to a 6 to 3 conservative majority.
Justice Breyer, though, has been vocal about his opposition to expanding the Court. In a speech on Tuesday at Harvard Law School, Breyer argued that the public’s trust in the legitimacy of the Court is based on the idea “that the Court is guided by legal principle, not politics.” He further contended that growing distrust of government and a common view that the Court is too political caution against making reforms to the Court.