Biden’s Supreme Court Commission: Who’s On It?

Biden’s Supreme Court Commission: Who’s On It?

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President Biden’s Supreme Court commission includes a variety of primarily liberal legal experts, with some conservatives as well, and is tasked with providing the president with a report on the current debate around potential reforms to the court, including court packing. 

It is a potpourri of law school professors, retired federal judges and former government lawyers. Some have lauded it as a collection of serious scholars to examine serious issues. Others have called it a smokescreen for Biden to eventually propose court packing. 

“This faux-academic study of a nonexistent problem fits squarely within liberals’ yearslong campaign to politicize the Court, intimidate its members, and subvert its independence,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said. “It’s just an attempt to clothe those ongoing attacks in fake legitimacy.”

The group’s fundamental task, according to Biden’s executive order that created the commission, is to write an “account of the contemporary commentary and debate about the role and operation of the Supreme Court in our constitutional system and about the functioning of the constitutional process by which the President nominates and, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, appoints Justices to the Supreme Court.”

This is to include “historical background” and arguments “for and against Supreme Court reform, including an appraisal of the merits and legality of particular reform proposals.” 

The White House press release said that among the specific topics the commission will investigate are “the Court’s role in 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 selection, rules, and practices.”

Biden said during the presidential campaign that he was “not a fan” of the idea, but refused to rule it out entirely.

Here’s the background of some of the most notable members of Biden’s Supreme Court commission. 

Robert Bauer

Robert Bauer is one of the co-chairs of the commission. He was the White House counsel under former President Obama before being named to chair a similar presidential commission on election administration, according to his New York University Law biography. Bauer was also a legal adviser for Biden’s presidential campaign. 

Bauer currently is a professor of practice and distinguished scholar at NYU Law. He also previously worked for Obama’s presidential campaign and was a counsel for Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle in the 1999 impeachment trial of former President Clinton. 

According to a 2009 Politico story on Bauer’s selection as Obama’s White House counsel, the choice of Bauer concerned government watchdogs who were worried that Obama was straying from his campaign finance reform promises. Republican election lawyer Michael Toner, however, called Bauer a “lawyer’s lawyer.” 

Bauer in 2018 wrote in The Atlantic that Democrats shouldn’t pack the Supreme Court due to the potentia

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