An attempt by progressives to put additional seats on the Supreme Court has faltered as Democrats shift focus to infrastructure and prepare for the possible retirement of Justice Stephen Breyer, The Hill reports.
Although a presidential commission is still reviewing a proposal to expand the court, progressive activists who support packing the court say that the panel lacks the power to recommend that seats be added to the Supreme Court, and was mostly created for show. One activist, executive director of Demand Justice Brian Fallon, pointed to the commissions' first public meeting, which was with a group of legal experts who showed that there is no academic consensus on increasing the size of 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.
"So I don't think that this commission is going to be the vehicle for facilitating any of the bold reforms that we think are needed for the federal judiciary," Fallon added.
"In its design, I think it's been set up to come up well short of endorsing anything bold or meaningful," he said.
However, Elliot Mincberg, a senior fellow at the progressive organization People for the American Way, said that "It's important and useful to have that kind of deep background on historical and legal and other aspects of court reform. I worry about how much practical use it will wind up being in the end."
Cristina Rodríguez, a professor at Yale Law School and the commission's co-chair, said on Wednesday that they are "not charged with making specific recommendations," but said she's hopeful that they could put out a "rigorous analysis and appraisal of the arguments and proposals that are animating today's debates."
One advocate, who was not named, said that the hearings were "a little tedious to watch," while another said that President Joe Biden and Democrats have shown a lack of intention to actually try to expand the court.
"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, who is a favorite to replace Breyer should he step down.
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