The left has vowed to use its control over Congress and the White House to change the very nature of the Supreme Court.
Number one on the liberal wish list: Expanding the Supreme Court so that President Joe Biden can appoint a slate of new justices to diminish the effect of former President Donald Trump’s three picks and shift the balance of the court to the left.
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But a new report from Biden’s hand-selected commission may have just thrown a monkey wrench into that plot.
The Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court — a group of 34 legal experts created by a Biden executive order – issued its long-awaited report on court reform.
The left is furious.
“For those sensing the urgency of this moment and looking for guidance about how to address Mitch McConnell’s successful court packing efforts, the report does not deliver,” Slate lamented. “Instead it offers Biden an excuse to do nothing.”
The Project On Government Oversight was even more blunt.
“It was clear from the moment President Joe Biden failed to ask the commission for recommendations that the group was not intended to meaningfully confront the Supreme Court legitimacy crisis,” the group said in a statement. “The commission worked diligently and thoughtfully, but its deliberations made painfully apparent that it would only give Biden what he asked for: a book report.”
Some of the panel’s more liberal members weren’t exactly thrilled with that result either.
“In voting to submit this report to the president, I am not casting a vote of confidence in the court’s basic legitimacy,” Laurence Tribe — an anti-Trump activist, TV talking head, and Harvard University law professor — told The Hill on Tuesday.
He went on, “I no longer have that confidence.”
The group noted in its analysis that court-packing isn’t a defining feature of functioning democracies.
Just the opposite, as it pointed to recent examples in Argentina, Venezuela, Turkey, Hungary and Poland.
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“[S]table democracies since the mid-twentieth century have retained a strong commitment to judicial independence and have not tended to make such moves,” the report stated. “For these opponents of expansion, it is important that the United States remain firmly in the ranks of democracies standing behind this commitment.”
But the group hinted there is one way to change the court that has popular support: term limits.
Under that plan, justices would be granted a single (but lengthy) term on the high court with a fixed expiration date.
“The United States is the only major constitutional democracy in the world that has neither a retirement age nor a fixed term limit for its high court Justices,” the report noted. “Among the world’s democracies, at least 27 have term limits for their constitutional courts. And those that do not have term limits, such as the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, typically impose age limits.”
The group said a single 18-year term “warrants serious consideration,” but warned that such a limit could politicize the courts even further, turning each looming vacancy into a potential campaign issue.
Currently, both Clarence Thomas and Stephen Breyer are beyond those 18 years. Chief Justice John Roberts is set to reach that mark in 2023, with Samuel Alito reaching it January 2024… before the next presidential election.
It’s not clear what, if anything, Biden will do with the report.
“He’ll have to review it first and I don’t think we’re going to set a timeline for what that looks like and what it will mean after that,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a press conference.
But the longer he waits to act, the less likely the court will be remade as liberals wish – as most of these actions would require new legislation, something that will become impossible for the left if Republicans retake control of the House and Senate as seems increasingly likely.
— Walter W. Murray is a reporter for The Horn News. He is an outspoken conservative and a survival expert.