On the eve of a public hearing, President Joe Biden’s commission released a series of reports on various proposals to reform the Supreme Court. The report appeared to reject the idea of expanding the court, receptive to term limits for justices, and proposed confronting the so-called “shadow docket” with increased transparency.
Setting out explicitly to avoid “partisan conflict” and “polarization,” the commission disappointed many on the Democratic Party’s left flank by criticizing the idea of adding justices to the Supreme Court — a theory described as “expansion” by its supporters and “court packing” by its critics. Former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt proposed the idea nearly a century ago to keep the court from shooting down the most ambitious aspects of his New Deal agenda, but Congress never enacted it, and Associate Justice Owen Roberts famously shifted his jurisprudential views regarding the constitutionality of the administrative state to more closely align with those of the FDR administration.
In five sets of reports — stylized as “Discussion Materials” — the commission lays out the history of the debate before chiming in on various proposals.