President Joe Biden appointed a commission last year to consider the impact of Supreme Court reform proposals — particularly adding additional justices to the high court.
As part of his year-end review of the federal judiciary, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts asserted that he does not believe it is necessary or advisable for Congress to become involved in overhauling the court, The Washington Post reported.
“Let me be crystal clear”
Last month, Biden’s commission issued its final draft report. While members shied away from recommendations on the most controversial recommendations, the panel determined that lawmakers possess the authority to impose such reforms.
For his part, Roberts expressed his belief that the judicial branch’s “power to manage its internal affairs insulates court from inappropriate political influence and is crucial to preserving public trust in its work as a separate and co-equal branch of government.”
He did acknowledge that a few federal judges had failed to recuse themselves from cases in which they had a financial interest but indicated that most of those violations were “unintentional” and there is a “99.97% compliance” rate overall.
“Let me be crystal clear: the Judiciary takes this matter seriously,” Roberts wrote. “We expect judges to adhere to the highest standards, and those judges violated an ethics rule.”
The chief justice went on to address another area of concern stemming from a complaint by some court staffers that there is not a sufficient system for dealing with workplace harassment. He determined that an expansion of the Office of Judicial Integrity and specific addition of workplace relations directors across the judiciary were designed to address this issue.
“An idea that should be considered”
“I appreciate that Members of Congress have expressed ongoing concerns on this important matter, and the Judicial Conference and its committees remain fully engaged,” he wrote.
Although he did not directly weigh in on the recommendations of Biden’s commission, he addressed “topics that have been flagged by Congress and the press over the past year,” including reports that a few judges failed to recuse themselves from cases in which they had financial interests.
Some on the left, however, will not be satisfied until the Supreme Court’s conservative majority is destroyed.
A group of Democratic lawmakers pushed a bill last year that would expand the court from nine to 13 justices. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said at the time that she had no plans to bring the measure to a vote.
“I don’t know that that’s a good idea or bad idea,” she said of the s0-called court-packing scheme, according to NBC News. “I think it’s an idea that should be considered. And I think the president’s taking the right approach to have a commission to study such a thing. It’s a big step.”