Biden says he would form commission to study US court system

Wendy Benjaminson

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden says he would set up a bipartisan commission to study reforms to the U.S. court system, spurred by his party’s calls to expand the number of seats on the U.S. Supreme Court amid the fight over replacing Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Biden told CBS’s “60 Minutes” in an interview airing Sunday that the commission would look at several alternatives which he didn’t define. But Democrats and legal scholars have suggested term limits and jurisdiction stripping as well as adding seats to the nine-member high court, known as “court packing.”

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden waves as he arrives at The Queen theatre in Wilmington, Del., Monday, Oct. 19, 2020.

“What I will do is I’ll put together a national commission of, bipartisan commission of, scholars, constitutional scholars, Democrats, Republicans, liberal/conservative. And I will – ask them to over 180 days come back to me with recommendations as to how to reform the court system because it’s getting out of whack- the way in which it’s being handled,” Biden said, according to a transcript released Thursday.

Asked if he meant he’s going to study court packing, Biden said, “There’s a number of alternatives that are – go well beyond packing.”

Biden has been under pressure to describe his position on the court system after Democrats began pushing for more seats on the court in the wake of Ginsburg’s death. The former vice president has said recently he’s “not a fan” of court packing after more definitively saying he opposed it before he was running for president.

Demand Justice, a progressive group, said a commission would only slow down the process.

“This proposed commission runs the risk of stalling momentum for serious reform,” the group’s executive director, Brian Fallon, said in a statement. “A commission that would allow opponents of structural reform to run out the clock is not a solution; it’s a punt.”

Democrats have been angry over the speed with which President Donald Trump and Senate Republicans have moved to replace Ginsburg, who died Sept. 18, with Judge Amy Coney Barrett. They say that with the election so close and early voting already underway, the selection of a replacement justice should have gone to the next president.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted Thursday to confirm Barrett for the Supreme Court. The nomination now goes to the full Senate and is expected to be approved by the Republican majority next week.