President Biden‘s Supreme Court commission explored the possibility of packing the Supreme Court and implementing term limits to end lifetime judicial appointments Wednesday during its second public meeting.
The commission is expected to release a final report on its findings and recommendations later this year.
During Wednesday’s hours-long meeting, a number of political and legal scholars testified in support of term limits for the justices, who currently are appointed for life.
Ilan Wurman, a law professor at Arizona State University, suggested that an 18-year term limit for the justices would be suitable.
“The proposal for 18-year, staggered term limits, fixing the court at nine justices, strikes me as the most plausible of all available reforms. It would require a constitutional amendment, but such an amendment is likely to have at least some support across all major political parties,” Mr. Wurman said.
Maya Sen, a political scientist at the Harvard Kennedy School, also pushed for implementing some sort of serving limitation, saying the Supreme Court nominations process has become increasingly political in the past few decades.
She said term limits “could represent a powerful tool to reverse this trend” and the political nature of appointments has made its way onto the court with justices choosing to retire when a president who is a political ally is in the White House.
On the topic of packing the court, Ms. Sen said concerns from critics about adding justices to the high court could lead to a back and forth under different presidents “is overblown.”
But not everyone who spoke during the meeting favored augmenting the court‘s bench of nine justices.
Noah Feldman, a Harvard University law professor, was open to term limits but suggested that packing the Supreme Court could do long-term damage.
“We collectively have much more to gain by preserving the institutional legitimacy of the Supreme Court than by breaking it,” Mr. Feldman 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 the coming months 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 commission’s next meeting is scheduled for July 20.