The bipartisan Supreme Court commission tasked by President Joe Biden to present court reform suggestions to the executive branch voted unanimously Tuesday to submit a final report giving more weight to imposing term limits over liberal calls for adding justices to the bench.
Biden assembled the commission earlier this year in response to calls by Democrats to restore what they called an ideological "balance" on the court, given the conservative 6-3 majority of justices established under former President Donald Trump. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday the president would review the findings, though there is no definitive schedule for action based on the proposals.
The vote comes just one day after the White House published materials from the nearly 300-page report, which highlighted numerous legal experts on the 34-person commission expressing "profound disagreement" on the idea of court expansion but offering a more sympathetic view to the possibility of term limits for justices.
"I approved the motion because the process that created the report was an extraordinary effort that deserves commendation," said Thomas Griffith, a former appellate court judge who expressed gratitude that the commission's "small handful of conservatives" on the panel were "fairly considered" in the final report.
SUPREME COURT COMMISSION SIGNALS 'PROFOUND DISAGREEMENT' ON COURT PACKING AHEAD OF TUESDAY VOTE
"The commission has modeled an approach to debate over important issues that is much needed in this polarized moment," Griffith added. Earlier this year, two conservative members of the panel resigned prior to further deliberations on the executive assignment.
While the commission takes no position on whether an expansion of the court should be considered for future reforms, the panel did conclude Congress has wide authority to add more justices to the bench. The panel focused more broadly on the question of term limits, suggesting that if they were imposed, a constitutional amendment would be more preferable than a change in statute.
“No matter which way the Court came out on the question, these Commissioners worry that the Court’s legitimacy, or perceptions of its legitimacy, would be undermined,” the report concluded.
The submission of the report on Tuesday wraps up nearly seven months of examination and analysis by former federal judges and legal experts amid a backdrop of landmark Supreme Court hearings over issues surrounding abortion, Second Amendment rights, and religious liberty issues.
A lack of policy recommendations is likely a disheartening signal to liberals who have suggested public confidence in the courts is at risk of erosion after Trump appointed three justices, the last being Justice Amy Coney Barrett, following the death of the liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 2020.
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"As a commission we have endeavored to articulate the contours of that debate as best as we understand them, without purporting to judge the weight of any of the arguments offered in favor or against calls to increase the size of the court," the report said.