Biden's New Years Resolution Could Be Court Packing

Written By BlabberBuzz | Sunday, 26 December 2021 16:45
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President Biden has essentially managed to avoid the Supreme Court reform debate's fray in office by outsourcing the issue to an expert study group. But his time on the sidelines may be running out.

As his court commission wrapped up its work, with a potentially explosive Supreme Court ruling on abortion expected this summer, months ahead of the midterms, Biden could soon find himself facing intense pressure from the left to take a bolder stance on reforming the 6-3 conservative majority court.

According to Samuel Moyn, a professor of jurisprudence and history at Yale University, the proposal that ranks as the current favorite among progressives involves expanding, or “packing,” the court with additional members. And if the justices curtail abortion access this term as many anticipate they will, he stated, calls for court expansion may grow too loud for Biden to neglect.

“The growing support for court expansion — with more than 10 times as many lawmakers signing on as when the commission started its work — may begin to create a new political reality that Biden will have a hard time ignoring altogether,” Moyn said. “And everyone knows that if the Supreme Court overrules Roe v. Wade, Biden’s own party or a popular outcry may force him to act.”

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Biden deflected the court reform discussion, as a candidate, by pledging to establish a study commission. The move succeeded in buying him political cover at a moment of Democratic furor as the court shifted rightward amid what the party viewed as Republican duplicity.

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The debate over the Supreme Court reached a fever pitch in the closing days of the 2020 presidential race as Senate Republicans scrambled to confirm then-President Trump’s third nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, ahead of the November vote.

The move infuriated Democrats, who in 2016 were denied a hearing for then-President Obama’s pick to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, Merrick Garland, when Republicans claimed that election year confirmations are improper — and yet appearing to violate that very claim only four years later.

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Biden upheld his previous campaign vow once he entered the White House, tapping a bipartisan group of some three dozen of the nation’s foremost constitutional thinkers and court watchers. The move once again allowed him to keep an arm's length distance from an issue that ranks as a top priority among numerous liberals but has turned off some of his party's more moderate members.

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