(Politicizd) ----- On Friday, April 9, President Biden officially introduced a bi-partisan commission to study the potential impacts of an increased number of seats on America's highest court. The move follows months of progressive pushes to re-alter the balance of the court after the previous administration was able to appoint three conservative justices. The balance of the court is now nine justices, with six conservatives and just three liberals. Consequently, many activists feel the court holds an inaccurate representation of the American public.
Biden, a former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has remarked that the judicial nomination system is particularly flawed but is yet to take a formal stance on the issue of Court Packing. Court Packing, the highly controversial idea of expanding the Supreme Court, has been hotly debated for hundreds of years. However, the number of justices, currently nine, has remained since the beginning of the reconstruction era. In fact, the last time more seats were added was Saturday, April 10, 1869. (Congress passed the Judiciary Act of 1869, raising the justices from 7 to 9). Thus, many opposers feel that the issue has been settled for over a century and lacks apolitical reasons to be re-written. Further stated, Republicans argue the move would be just that. A highly political and major step in wrong direction. In fact, Mitt Romney, a famous opponent of the Trump- Republican party, has voiced concerns, calling the move an attempt to "forever diminish institutions at our Republic's foundation".
Moreover, many conservatives worry that the commission, appointed by a Democratic President will lack the necessary bi-partisanship that Biden promises.
Former Bush Advisor, and Fox News Contributor, Karl Rove noted that Bob Bauer, the appointed Co-Chairman of the commission is a ‘political hack lawyer’ who formally worked as Head Counsel of the DNC in 2008 and 2012. Rove added that Bauer also helped Biden in debate prep and aided the vetting of his Vice Presidential nominees. As a result, Rove explains that, “[Bauer's appointment] is not going to increase the sense that this is not going to be highly political [and] highly partisan”.
"I'll be surprised if they don't come up with a bunch of ways to constrain the Supreme Court, expand the, potentially expand the court, expand the appellate courts, expand the power of the power of the appellate and district courts, and otherwise undermine a conservative Supreme Court”
--- Karl Rove, saying that he expects the commission to find whatever is politically necessary to advocate for Court Packing
Court Packing, Impacts and History
In the event of a Judicial change, and the addition of two or even four more justices, several impacts would show. First, on the political side, under a Biden Presidency, four nominations would flip control and provide for a liberal majority for the first time since 1980s. However, more problematically, the simple adjustment could lead to an ever-growing court set to give the President's party a judicial advantage. More clearly stated, in 2024 with a Republican White House the court could be re-adjusted again, allowing for another Conservative majority. This cycle could be a never ending political tool to constrain the courts.
On the historic side, the last court packing attempt was orchestrated by Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The respected President of 12 years, proposed legislation to add more justices in order to obtain several more liberal justices to his court. In fact, he hoped to gain a majority in order to receive favorable decisions on his New Deal policies. Simply put, the move to pack the court was as political then as it would be now.
(A Political Cartoon from 1937, depicting President Roosevelt "packing the court")
Overall, as long as the court provides political consequences to the people, the issue of Court Packing is likely to divide the country. Even more so, in the case of this commission, it is incredibly unlikely that the "bi-partisan" findings bring the parties together.