As a candidate, President Joe Biden wasn't onboard the Supreme Court expansion band wagon, but he did say he would set up a commission to explore options for reforming the court. True to his word, a new commission on Supreme Court reform is in place. It will be based in the White House Counsel's office and Bob Bauer, Biden's campaign lawyer, will be a co-chair.
So far, the commission's mandate has either not been established, or the administration is not ready to talk about that yet. But it does have some additional members, including Yale Law School professor Cristina Rodríguez as co-chair. Rodríguez served in President Obama's Department of Justice. Others who have been tapped for the commission are "Caroline Fredrickson, the former president of the American Constitution Society, and Jack Goldsmith, a Harvard Law School professor and a former assistant attorney general in the Bush Department of Justice."
Rodríguez is an immigration law and constitutional law expert, who also clerked for Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Goldsmith is a conservative, and was a great booster of Brett Kavanaugh's nomination. He's there for that "unity" thing, presumably and is offset by Frederickson. The American Constitution Society, which Freerickson's both helped establish and grow has served as a counter to the Federalist Society, except it doesn't own the Democratic establishment. Frederickson has longstanding and serious progressive credibility, having served as director of the ACLU's Washington legislative office and as general counsel and legal director of NARAL Pro-Choice America. In a 2019 interview, she made a point of clarifying "the Supreme Court is not defined as a ‘nine person body’ in the Constitution, and it has changed size many times."
The commission is going to be somewhere between 9 and 15 members, eventually. Whether it's a sincere effort that will end up making real reforms is in question by plenty of reform-oriented advocates. "Commissions are often places where ideas go to die and there is no time on the clock to reform the court," said Aaron Belkin, the director of Take Back the Court. "The entire agenda of what needs to get done is in jeopardy thanks to stolen federal courts."
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer expressed somewhat less skepticism this week, but doesn't sound terribly enthusiastic. "President Biden has put together this commission to come up with a report in 180 days. […] We're going to see what the commission says and go from there."
An awful lot can happen in six months, like dozens of really horrible regressive Supreme Court decisions that could block many of the ambitious and progressive policies and programs Biden is pursuing.