Since 1869, the Supreme Court has had nine justices. Over the past 152 years, only one attempt has been made to change that number. The attempt by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1937 drew scathing criticism from both sides of the aisle as his “court-packing” effort was viewed as a threat to the independence of the judiciary. A Senate Judiciary Committee report at the time said that such an attempt “should be so emphatically rejected that its parallel will never again be presented to the free representatives of the free people of America.” Roosevelt’s effort eventually failed after a bitter 168-day battle.
The Biden administration recently signaled its intention to achieve what Roosevelt could not. If the Supreme Court and federal judges across the country won’t bend to the will of the Biden administration, then President Joe Biden will simply create new judicial vacancies and fill them with cronies who will.
Through an executive order signed on a Friday afternoon, Biden announced the creation of a 36-member commission tasked to produce a report analyzing “the role and operation of the Supreme Court,” including its “membership and size,” as well as the “legality of particular reform proposals.” Such potential reforms could lead to an increase in the number of justices and an end to lifetime appointments.