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McConnell, GOP slam Biden's executive order on SCOTUS

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellWashington showing signs of normalcy after year of restrictions Former OMB pick Neera Tanden to serve as senior adviser to Biden Lawmakers reach agreement on bipartisan Jan. 6 commission MORE (R-Ky.) and other Republicans hammered President BidenJoe BidenWarren calls for US to support ceasefire between Israel and Hamas UN secretary general 'deeply disturbed' by Israeli strike on high rise that housed media outlets Nation's largest nurses union condemns new CDC guidance on masks MORE’s executive order establishing a commission to study whether to add seats to the Supreme Court.

McConnell in a statement said the order and growing calls from liberals to expand the high court marked “open disdain for judicial independence” and that Biden’s action marked a “direct assault” on the judiciary.

“Rational observers know well there is nothing about the structure or operation of the judicial branch that requires ‘study,’ ” McConnell said in a statement.

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“This faux-academic study of a nonexistent problem fits squarely within liberals’ years-long campaign to politicize the Court, intimidate its members, and subvert its independence,” he added.

McConnell went on to accuse Biden of violating his vow to reduce political animosity in the country, saying such a commission would be divisive.

“President Biden campaigned on a promise of lowering the temperature and uniting a divided nation,” he said. “If he really meant it, he would stop giving oxygen to a dangerous, antiquated idea and stand up to the partisans hawking it.” 

The rebuke comes after Biden announced the formation of the bipartisan commission, which will be chaired by former White House counsel Bob Bauer and Cristina Rodríguez, a former deputy assistant attorney general. The group will mostly be made up of law professors and former officials who served under both parties. 

The commission will be made up of 36 members in all and has 180 days from its first public meeting to complete a report on its work. 

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“The Commission’s purpose is to provide an analysis of the principal arguments in the contemporary public debate for and against Supreme Court reform, including an appraisal of the merits and legality of particular reform proposals,” the White House said in a release. “The topics it will examine include the genesis of the reform debate; the Court’s role in the Constitutional system; the length of service and turnover of justices on the Court; the membership and size of the Court; and the Court’s case selection, rules, and practices.” 

Biden said in October that he was “not a fan” of expanding the court. However, he’s come under increasing pressure from progressives who were enraged over Republicans’ efforts to block then-President Obama from filling a vacancy early in 2016 on the grounds that a seat shouldn’t be filled in an election year only for McConnell to push through now-Justice Amy Coney BarrettAmy Coney BarrettJudge Judy on expanding Supreme Court: 'It's a dumb idea' Court watchers buzz about Breyer's possible retirement Five hot-button issues Biden didn't mention in his address to Congress MORE’s confirmation just days before the 2020 race came to a close. 

While liberals hailed the move, Republicans cast it as an effort by Biden to revamp the country. 

“Make no mistake, this commission is simply another attempt by the Democrats to rewrite the rules — this time to expand the Supreme Court to a size sufficient to wash out the conservative justices appointed under President TrumpDonald TrumpSunday shows preview: House GOP removes Cheney from leadership position; CDC issues new guidance for fully vaccinated Americans Navajo Nation president on Arizona's new voting restrictions: An 'assault' on our rights The Memo: Lawmakers on edge after Greene's spat with Ocasio-Cortez MORE,” said Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.). “As Tennessee’s Senator, I vehemently oppose this effort to turn the Supreme Court and the federal courts into a rubber stamp for the Democrats’ activist agenda by overwhelming the bench with justices that will disregard the U.S. Constitution.”

“[W]hatever the commission says, the truth is that Democrats want to pack the Court to implement a leftist agenda that Americans don't want,” Sen. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonTim Scott sparks buzz in crowded field of White House hopefuls Opposition to refugees echoes one of America's most shameful moments White House defends CDC outreach to teachers union MORE (R-Ark.) tweeted.

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The White House maintained Friday that the commission will not deliver specific recommendations to Biden at the conclusion of its report and that its findings will merely guide Biden’s thinking on the matter.

“He wants smart legal experts, people who have been thinking about these issues for some, for decades, to have a discussion and a debate about it and deliver him a report that we will, again, be delivering to the public and you all can read once it is completed,” said White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiFrench police deploy tear gas on protestors supporting Palestinians in Paris White House says safety of journalists is 'paramount' after Gaza building bombed Washington showing signs of normalcy after year of restrictions MORE.