- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 20, 2021

President Biden‘s Supreme Court commission heard Tuesday from a group of lawyers who practice before the justices and who did not have a favorable response to progressive proposals to pack the court.

Maureen Mahoney, co-chair of the Supreme Court Practitioners’ Committee, told the panel in its third public meeting they oppose moves to enlarge the court.

“A larger bench could make arguments less productive, deliberations more difficult and yield even more opinions with less clarity in the law,” she said.

The commission, though, also heard from progressive activist groups who charged it is time to add justices to the bench, arguing the move is constitutional because the number of justices has fluctuated in the past.

The commission also discussed potential term limits for the justices.

Michael Waldman, president of the Brennan Center for Justice and a member of the commission, said he was surprised both witnesses from the right and left have been open to implementing some sort of term limits.

John Malcolm, vice president at the Institute for Constitutional Government with the Heritage Foundation, testified that any sort of limit on tenure may need to be implemented with a constitution amendment while Christopher Kang, who co-founded Demand Justice, said he thought it could be accomplished through statute.

The Constitution says that “Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour” — meaning they can only be impeached.

During Tuesday’s hours-long meeting, a number of legal scholars testified about various changes to the high court and whether alterations would make the court more or less political.

Curt Levey, president of the Committee for Justice, pushed back against accusations that the conservative majority has only delivered wins for Republicans.

“There’s now been — starting with the Warren Court — 60 years of the living Constitution being used to push the law in a progressive direction. While there are certainly on the conservative side, there have been politically influenced decisions, you haven’t had this freewheeling, making things up out of whole cloth that you have had with the living Constitution,” he said.

Mr. Biden‘s Commission on the Supreme Court of the United States was created in April through executive order.

It is composed of liberal and conservative members who are expected to issue a report in November about what types of changes for the court should be implemented by the president and Congress.

The commission was created amid calls from progressives to pack the Supreme Court, stemming from anger that conservatives hold a 6-3 majority on the bench after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death last year.

The next meeting is scheduled for Nov. 10, and the commission expects to wrap up its report on Nov. 14. 

• Alex Swoyer can be reached at aswoyer@washingtontimes.com.

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