(USA Features) Efforts by congressional progressive Democrats to expand the number of U.S. Supreme Court justices are faltering as Congress shifts its focus to other matters, especially getting an infrastructure bill passed.
According to The Hill, Democrats are preparing for the potential retirement of liberal Justice Stephen Breyer, however.
A presidential commission is continuing to review proposals to add more justices to the high court, but progressives in favor of doing so say that panel does not have any authority to make recommendations as to how best to add seats and that it was mostly just created for show.
Brian Fallon, head of the leftist group Demand Justice, recounted the panel’s first public meeting, which involved several legal experts who demonstrated that there is no academic consensus on packing the court.
“I think the deference to academics in terms of the makeup of this commission combined with the lack of authority to make actual policy recommendations makes this commission rather toothless,” he said, according to The Hill.
“In its design, I think it’s been set up to come up well short of endorsing anything bold or meaningful,” he said.
But Elliot Mincberg, a senior fellow at the liberal organization People for the American Way, said the panel’s discussions were nevertheless significant.
“It’s important and useful to have that kind of deep background on historical and legal and other aspects of court reform,” he said.
“I worry about how much practical use it will wind up being in the end.”
Yale Law School Prof. Cristina Rodríguez, co-chair of the panel, said Wednesday members are “not charged with making specific recommendations.”
However, she added that she hoped they could put out a “rigorous analysis and appraisal of the arguments and proposals that are animating today’s debates.”
One advocate for expanding the court told The Hill the hearings were “a little tedious to watch,” while another remarked that it doesn’t appear that President Joe Biden and Democratic leaders are really serious about court expansion.
“We really don’t think of it that much in terms of moving the ball. Clearly, Biden set this up to fulfill a campaign promise and has no intention of actually moving forward on it,” the advocate said.
“Our thinking is that really pushing too heavily on this right now anyway potentially complicates the up-or-down vote” for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, a favorite to replace Breyer whenever he retires.