White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki explained Friday that President Joe Biden’s exploration of expanding the Supreme Court will weigh the various pros and cons of such a move, even though the president opposed the idea decades ago.
“The panel is being asked to do a number of things, take a number of steps, including the pros and cons on exactly that issue, but they will also be looking at the Court’s rule on 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-election rules and practices,” Psaki said.
Biden said in 1983 that even though former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt “had the right to” introduce “a proposal to pack the Court” to Congress, “it was a bonehead idea,” according to video footage uploaded by C-SPAN.
Biden signed an executive order on Friday to develop a commission to review possible reforms to the Supreme Court, including its “membership and size,” a White House press release said. The president’s move to establish the commission, which is charged with completing a report in 180 days, follows increasing pressure from activists to expand the court after three conservative justices were confirmed under the Trump administration, The New York Times reported.
“The makeup of this commission, which was vital for the president, is there are progressives on the Court, there are conservatives on the Court, people will present different opinions and different points of view and then they’ll have a report at the end of 180 days,” Psaki said.
Justice Stephen Breyer cautioned Tuesday that the public’s faith in the Supreme Court may decrease if the branch was enlarged since it would depict the institution as political, according to a Wednesday NYT report.
“He [Roosevelt] violated no law, he was legalistically absolutely correct, but it was a bonehead idea. It was a terrible, terrible mistake to make,” Biden said in 1983, according to video footage.
Biden said Roosevelt’s decision launched 10 years of speculation over the Court’s autonomy, video shows. Roosevelt asserted packing the Court was required to unload accumulating dockets as well as “a constant infusion of new blood in the courts,” The Washington Post reported in 2020.