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Biden commission divided over adding judges

Pedestrians walk past the United States Supreme Court in Washington, DC, the United States, on Sunday, June 20, 2021.

Stefani Reynolds | Bloomberg | Getty Images

A bipartisan White House committee agreed Congress had the legal power to expand the Supreme Court – but the group was divided over whether lawmakers should actually do so.

This is according to the draft “discussion papers” released Thursday by the White House, which tasked around thirty experts to consider a range of possible reforms for the high court of nine members.

The draft documents have come out as the court, faced with historically low approval rates, is set this term to render decisions in crucial cases centered on politically polarizing issues, including abortion, guns and religion.

A growing chorus of critics – especially those furious at the tactics Republicans used to nominate the three most recent judges – have called for expanding the size of the bench. Supporters include former presidential candidates and cabinet members.

Some of the commissioners agree with the arguments for the expansion, “at least in part,” according to the draft documents. But other commissioners concluded that the addition of seats “is likely to undermine, rather than enhance, the legitimacy of the Supreme Court and its role in the constitutional system,” the commission wrote.

“There are important reasons to be skeptical that the expansion serves democratic values,” the commission added. “We also raise some tentative concerns about how the enlargement of the Supreme Court might be received in the national and international community at large.”

President Joe Biden created the commission by executive order in April, bringing together a bipartisan panel of academics, lawyers, lawyers and former judges to examine the arguments for and against High Court reform.

The commission is scheduled to hold a public meeting on Friday, starting at 10 a.m. ET.

This is the news in development. Please check for updates.