White House commission split on SCOTUS reform ideas

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WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — A White House commission tasked with considering reforms to the U.S. Supreme Court appears just as divided as the rest of the country.

A Thursday draft report from the bipartisan commission, which is made up of legal experts, suggested openness to imposing term limits on justices but also warned expanding the number of justices could make the institution more political — a finding that frustrated some members.

“I think it does a disservice and actually silences what arguments might be raised by people who are operating in that space of thinking about democracy,” commission member Sherrilyn Ifill of the Legal Defense Fund said.

On Friday, several Democratic senators called the draft disappointing.

Paul Schiff Berman, a constitutional law professor at George Washington University, argues Republicans have already distorted the public’s view of the court.

“The constitutional crisis is here,” he said. “(Republicans) have effectively packed the court with at least two justices that really shouldn’t have been on the court (because they were) appointed by presidents who did not win the popular vote.”

But Zach Smith of The Heritage Foundation, a conservative policy think tank, said it’s time for Democrats to give up efforts to change the court.

“The attempts that we’re seeing now, especially from many on the left, to cast the branch as political branch are really just unhappy with certain decisions that courts have issued,” he said. “This is an effort to either pressure the justices or, more sinisterly, undermine the legitimacy of the courts.”

The commission will submit a final report to the president in November.

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