President Joe Biden and his campaign team went to great lengths during the 2020 campaign in avoiding direct answers on whether or not he supported the idea of packing the U.S. Supreme Court in the wake of former President Donald Trump’s unprecedented three appointment opportunities, all of which were conservative justices.
While the term “court-packing” hasn’t made many headlines since then, that changed this week when Biden announced he is forming a commission to determine whether or not adding seats on the high court will be the best move for the American justice system, and top GOP leaders, like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) are not happy about it, according to The Hill.
What’s going on?
Former White House counsel Bob Bauer, alongside Cristina Rodríguez, a former deputy assistant attorney general, will head up a bipartisan commission consisting of legal professors and former administration officials from both sides of the political aisle to study whether or not packing the court makes sense.
The group will be comprised of a total of 36 members and they’ve been given a time period of 180 days to deliver their first report on findings related to the study’s purpose.
“The topics it will examine include the genesis of the reform debate; the Court’s role in the Constitutional system; the length of service and turnover of justices on the Court; the membership and size of the Court; and the Court’s case selection, rules, and practices,” said the White House in a statement.
Biden often claimed during his 2020 presidential campaign that he wouldn’t reveal his true position on whether court-packing would be something he’d initiate, instead, saying that he would reveal his feelings after he won the presidency.
While the bipartisan commission will tackle other SCOTUS-related issues, presumably a nod from the commission on court-packing will be the last piece of political cover that the Biden administration needs to convince Congress to move forward with such a controversial move.
McConnell is not a fan
The Kentucky Senate leader blasted Biden’s executive order that formed the commission, calling Biden’s plan a “direct assault” on the nation’s high court.
“Rational observers know well there is nothing about the structure or operation of the judicial branch that requires ‘study,'” a statement from McConnell said. “This faux-academic study of a nonexistent problem fits squarely within liberals’ years-long campaign to politicize the Court, intimidate its members, and subvert its independence.”
The Minority Leader slammed Biden for once again backtracking on his promise to work across the political aisle and not continue to widen an already explosive divide between the two parties, and Americans in general. Studying the workings of the Supreme Court will do just that, McConnell suggested.
“If he really meant it, he would stop giving oxygen to a dangerous, antiquated idea and stand up to the partisans hawking it,” McConnell added, referencing the growing calls from the more progressive elements of the Democratic party who would love nothing more than to add enough justices to the high court to even out the power.
Only time will tell if Biden and the Democrats make a move to pack the Supreme Court down the road, but it certainly looks as though they’re setting up the foundation to make the move, which would be explosive and divisional, to say the least.