Joe Biden Supreme Court commission previews 'prominent proposal' to add justices

President Biden’s Commission on the Supreme Court released draft discussion materials Thursday, suggesting the panel is ready to push for adding justices to the high court.

The panel was created in April through executive order, and is expected to release its final report next month.

But on Thursday, the commission’s members noted their “prominent proposal would increase the number of Justices who sit on the Court.”

“Other proposals suggest reorganizing the membership of the court,” read the discussion materials released on Thursday evening.

The commission is composed of liberal and moderate members who are expected to issue a final report Nov. 14 about what types of changes for the court Mr. Biden should implement.

The last president to try to add justices to the high court was Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1937, but even the overwhelmingly Democratic Congress opposed the move.

The high court has had nine justices since 1869. Before that, it fluctuated from five to 10 justices.

The Constitution does not set a number of justices for the high court, but any expansion would have to go through Congress.

Given the 50-50 party-line split in the Senate and a 60-vote threshold to pass most legislation, it’s unlikely any bill to add justices would pass.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday that Mr. Biden wouldn’t be commenting on the report until the final draft was submitted to him in November and he’s had a chance to review it.

On Thursday Ms. Psaki downplayed the preliminary draft’s significance, calling it “an assessment, not a recommendation.”

Mr. Biden’s commission was created amid recent 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.

Progressives grew increasingly angry over the Supreme Court during former President Trump’s four years in office, during which he had three appointments.

The proposed changes come as the Supreme Court recently hit its lowest approval rating among registered voters in a Quinnipiac University poll published last month.

Fifty percent of registered voters gave the high court a negative approval rating, while 37% approved of the job the justices are doing. Thirteen percent did not offer an opinion.

It’s the lowest job approval the high court has received since Quinnipiac University began questioning people about the Supreme Court’s job in 2004.

The high court is also set to hear politically charged issues this term, weighing the future of abortion rights under Roe v. Wade and what types of limits a state can place on the right to carry a firearm outside the home.

The president’s commission has held three public meetings since its creation, hearing from a number of legal scholars about the impact of adding justices to the Supreme Court or limiting the number of years a justice may serve.

Justices are currently appointed for life, a rule in the U.S. Constitution.

The draft discussion materials released Thursday also noted a “prominent proposal” would, in fact, impact the justices’ tenure.

“Another prominent proposal would limit the length of time that Justices serve on the Court and, relatedly, would define the intervals at which Justices are appointed,” read the commission’s paper.

The panel has another meeting scheduled for Friday, which is expected to last roughly seven hours.

During their lengthy meetings, the legal experts — from both sides of the aisle — have testified about various changes to the high court and whether alterations would make the court appear more or less political.

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