Expert report | Increasing the number of U.S. Supreme Court justices would be risky

(Washington) Increasing the number of judges of the Supreme Court of the United States, as demanded by some on the left, risks undermining the legitimacy of this powerful institution, according to an expert report released Thursday by the White House.


The panel of jurists, which Democratic President Joe Biden has asked to consider the various options for reforming the High Court, points out that reducing the tenure of the nine wise men is a more consensual idea.

These conclusions are contained in a preliminary report, pending the final report within a month, and “are only an assessment, not a recommendation,” said presidential spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

They should, however, ease the pressure on Joe Biden, whom the left wing of the Democratic Party is pushing to increase the number of Supreme Court justices to dilute the influence of conservative magistrates within it.

The high court decides in the United States many questions of society such as access to abortion or the rights of sexual minorities. Its members, appointed for life, are chosen by the president and confirmed by the Senate.

Republican Donald Trump succeeded in bringing in three magistrates, bringing the number of conservative judges to six out of a total of nine. This new majority has, in the opinion of many observers, started a shift to the right which is fueling calls for reform.

Elected Democrats in the House of Representatives have already presented a bill to seat four additional judges. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi refused to put it to a vote until the presidential committee delivered its conclusions.

In its progress report, it underlines that its members “are divided when it comes to saying whether increasing the size of the Court is wise”. This option “carries considerable risks” and is “likely to weaken more than strengthen the legitimacy” of the powerful institution, she writes.

On the other hand “setting limits to the mandate of judges seems to meet with broader support and in both parties”, she notes, evoking several options including 18 years maximum.

This reform would make it possible, according to her, “to preserve the independence of the judiciary while ensuring that the composition of the Court depends on the result of the elections over time” and no longer on mere chance which means that certain presidents have the opportunity to decide. appoint several judges and others less.

To adopt this reform, it would take either a constitutional reform, which is a very cumbersome process in the United States, or a simple law, which will be also difficult given the political tensions in Congress.

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