Biden creates commission to study potential SCOTUS expansion

WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — President Joe Biden on Friday will order the creation of a bipartisan commission to study potential reforms to the Supreme Court, the White House said, including whether to expand the number of justices, a key goal of progressive Democrats. But one Justice says those seeking changes should think “long and hard” about reform proposals.

In a statement, the White House said the commission would tackle the “merits and legality” of specific high court reform proposals. Along with the contentious idea of expanding the court, reform advocates have recently pushed for term limits for the justices.

“The Commission’s purpose is to provide an analysis of the principal arguments in the contemporary public debate for and against Supreme Court reform,” the statement said.

The commission will be made up of a bipartisan group of legal scholars, former federal judges and lawyers who have appeared before the court. It will hold public meetings and have 180 days to report its findings.

In a speech to Harvard Law School students Tuesday, Justice Stephen Breyer said liberal advocates of big changes at the Supreme Court, including expanding the number of justices, should think “long and hard” about what they’re proposing.

FILE – In this Nov. 30, 2018, file photo, Associate Justice Stephen Breyer sits with fellow Supreme Court justices for a group portrait at the Supreme Court Building in Washington. Progressives are hoping 82-year-old Justice Stephen Breyer retires soon to allow President Joe Biden to appoint a like-minded successor while Democrats control the White House and Senate. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Politically driven change could diminish the trust Americans place in the court, Breyer said in the prepared text of a long speech he gave remotely Tuesday to Harvard Law School students, faculty and alumni.

His talk, Breyer said, “seeks to make those whose initial instincts may favor important structural (or other similar institutional) changes, such as forms of ‘court-packing,’ think long and hard before embodying those changes in law.”

Breyer, a Harvard law alumnus who also taught at the school, is the court’s oldest justice at 82. 

While he has said nothing publicly about his plans, it was filled with calls for the public to view the justices as more than “junior league politicians.”

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this story. Reporting by Susan Heavey and Andrew Chung/Reuters and Mark Sherman/AP.