Conservatives who currently enjoy a 6-3 majority on the court think this is largely unnecessary. This week, two conservatives, Jack Goldsmith and Caleb Nelson, withdrew from the group.
After Republicans blocked the confirmation of Barack Obama’s nominee in 2016, the Libertarians were saddened by the three consecutive appointments of former President Donald Trump. They felt that reform was urgently needed, but knew that the committee did not Real teeth. In its final report to be submitted to Biden in mid-November, it is responsible for evaluating various reform proposals, but will not issue firm and actionable recommendations.
Biden proposed the idea of creating the committee when he was running for president because he was pressured by his fellow Democrats to take a stand on the issue of court expansion and try to bring greater balance to the bench. Although the draft material created by the working group released on Thursday appeared to have reached a consensus in support of term limits, Biden categorically opposed the idea on Friday night. (The committee appears to be divided on adding more seats to the bench.)
When asked by the White House whether he supports term restrictions on judges who currently enjoy life terms, the president said: “No.”
The comment came after Democrats and court reform advocates criticized the report itself.
Rhode Island Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse said in a statement: “This report disappoints those who want to make drastic efforts to resolve the deep-seated troubles of the Supreme Court.”
Brian Fallon, executive director of Demand Justice, a group dedicated to court reform, persuaded Justice Stephen Breyer to retire to support young liberal candidates, but he was not vague.
“It’s not even worth the wait,” Fallon said in a statement.
He added: “The itemized analysis reflected here is exactly what you expect from a committee composed mainly of academics, including a few die-hard conservatives who are completely satisfied with the status quo.” He claimed that Biden’s efforts were only between the president and others. Efforts to buy time in the legislative struggle.
On Friday, committee members met to participate in a large-scale Zoom conference call and discussed draft materials. Members talked about term limits and court expansion. Many people seem to be immersed in the topic of knowledge feast, and are willing to dig deeper into the third branch. Others are ready to criticize the report and make suggestions for future drafts.
Progressives also spoke at the meeting on Friday. Sherylyn Yiffel, chairman of the Legal Defense Fund of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, is critical of the chapter on the increase of court members in the report. She said that readers may leave the impression that the working group thinks this is not a good idea, even if the entire committee is not involved.
Harvard University professor Andrew Crespo said he hoped that committee members would return to the drawing board and make “substantial changes.”
But Thomas B. Griffith, a retired judge appointed by George W. Bush, said he believes the committee must act very carefully.
He rejected any suggestion that the court has irretrievably collapsed, and said, “The Supreme Court has played a vital role.”
Two conservatives exit
The White House said on Friday that two conservative commissioners withdrew from the group.
The conservative Goldsmith who worked in the George W. Bush administration and the University of Virginia professor and former clerk of Justice Clarence Thomas Nelson left the committee. The reason for their departure is unclear.
“The two commissioners chose to end their participation. We respect their decision and thank them very much for their significant contributions in preparing for these deliberations over the past five months,” said White House spokesperson Andrew Bates.
In an email to CNN, Nielsen wrote: “I can confirm that I have resigned from the committee, but I have no further comments (other than saying that I am honored to be a member).”
CNN has contacted Goldsmith for comment.
This story has been updated with additional reports.
CNN’s Maegan Vazquez contributed to this report.