Court Battles

Democrats call out Biden Supreme Court commission

A group of Democratic lawmakers called out President Biden’s Supreme Court commission this week, saying the panel has failed to recognize what they assert is an illegitimate conservative takeover of the nation’s highest court.

The group, consisting of three senators and a House member, wrote in a letter dated Tuesday that draft materials released by the commission in September indicated that it is falling short in its analysis of the Supreme Court.

“As currently drafted, this report is a disappointment to anyone who had hoped for a clear-eyed effort to address the Supreme Court’s deep troubles,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter, which was shared with The Hill.

The letter was led by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and signed by Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Rep. Hank Johnson Jr. (D-Ga.).

A White House spokesman did not immediately respond when asked for comment on the letter.

The commission, which is set to issue a final report next month, upset progressives in September when it released draft materials that signaled wariness of the idea of expanding the number of seats on the court — something some on the left have advocated to tip the balance away from the current 6-3 conservative majority.

However, the panel indicated that term limits for Supreme Court justices might be worth exploring and acknowledged concerns that “close identification of Justices with political party could undermine the perception of judicial independence, which is important to the acceptance and compliance with the Court’s decisions.”

The lawmakers’ letter this week did not offer an opinion on court-packing proposals but expressed disappointment that the commission in its draft discussion materials has failed to recognize the alleged damage to the Supreme Court’s legitimacy and the rule of law caused by a bench that they believe is advancing partisan interests.

“We offer a different proposition: that in the face of overwhelming evidence that the Court has been captured by partisan donor interests, it is wrong to perpetuate the fiction that it has not been,” the Democrats wrote. “By grounding its draft report foremost in the concern that the public must perceive the Court to be legitimate and independent, the Commission fails to consider the very real and much more dangerous possibility that it might not be.”

“In the short time remaining to complete your vital work, the Commission must reckon with the prospect that the Court’s independence—not just the perception thereof—has been compromised,” the letter adds.

The commission is scheduled to hold a virtual open meeting on Friday.

Tags Court packing Hank Johnson Joe Biden Mazie Hirono Sheldon Whitehouse
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