Commission on court reform tweaks draft materials as it nears final report to Biden

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joe biden sits at desk and signs document while kamala harris stands in background wearing mask

President Joe Biden established his commission on court reform in April. (archna nautiyal via Shutterstock)

President Joe Biden’s commission on court reform met again Friday to continue discussing a draft of the report it plans to submit to the president next month. Since last month’s meeting, the commission has revised the draft to clarify language and alter its structure, but the substance remains largely the same on the major reform proposals the commission has studied, including court expansion and term limits for justices.

The updated draft materials detail the arguments for and against these proposals and options for their implementation. The chapter on court expansion notes the “profound disagreement among Commissioners” on the issue and declares that they have “endeavored to articulate the contours of that debate.” On term limits, the materials present a greater consensus among scholars and major think tanks in favor of the reform. Materials also touch on the shadow docket, transparency at the court, and ideas to curb judicial power.

As was their mandate, commissioners expressed a commitment to present information and analysis — not policy suggestions. “We are not charged with making recommendations or coming down on one side or the other,” co-chair Cristina Rodriguez said. Friday’s meeting saw far less heated debate than the group’s last meeting, with chapters receiving a handful of comments, thanks, and minor criticisms.

Under an executive order that Biden issued in April, the commission was tasked with issuing its final report by mid-November. But its work has been delayed by about a month. Along the way, it has faced criticism from both the right and the left. Two conservative members quit last month, and some Democratic lawmakers wrote a letter this week saying the commission’s work is too tepid.

The group will reconvene on Dec. 7 for its final meeting, when it will consider the revised draft of the report and vote on whether to submit it to the president. The public may continue to submit comments and is requested to do so by Dec. 3.



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