Fredrickson has suggested that she intellectually supports ideas like expanding the courts. In 2019, she said in an interview with Eric Lesh, executive director of the LGBT Bar Association and the Foundation of Greater New York: “I often point out to people who are not lawyers that the Supreme Court does is not defined as ‘nine persons corps’ in the Constitution, and it has changed in size several times.
Rodriguez’s views on judicial reforms are less clear. Goldsmith’s selection, meanwhile, is likely to frustrate progressives. A senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Goldsmith did not support Trump and is a friend and co-author of Bauer. But he was a strong supporter of Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the High Court – an appointment that sparked a Democratic plea to increase the number of Supreme Court seats.
“He will also be an influential figure within the Supreme Court building,” Goldsmith wrote in 2018 of Kavanaugh. in a Time article titled, “Brett Kavanaugh will turn the court on the Supreme Court.” “He is a brilliant analyst with a deep scientific and practical knowledge of law. Its legal opinions are exceptionally accessible. He is a magnanimous soul.
The White House declined to comment. But a source close to the discussion expects between nine and 15 members in total to be appointed to the commission.
Rodriguez and Goldsmith did not respond to a request for comment and Fredrickson declined to comment.
The idea for a commission arose amid a push by Republican senators to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court in the weeks leading up to the November election. Under intense pressure to consider changes to the composition of the Supreme Court – including expansion of the courts – Biden executed a classic punch in Washington DC. He announced in October that if elected he would form such a commission to study structural changes. But Biden also conceded that he was “not a fan of court packaging.”
“The last thing we need to do is turn the Supreme Court into just political football, whoever has the most votes gets what they want,” Biden said in a “60 minute” interview in October. “Presidents come and go. Supreme Court justices stay for generations.”
Progressive groups pushing for court expansion responded with skepticism to Biden’s announcement at the time. And they have remained skeptical to this day.
“Commissions are often places where ideas will die and there is no time to reform the court,” said Aaron Belkin, director of Take Back the Court, a progressive group that advocates adding seats to the Supreme Court. “The entire agenda of what needs to be done is threatened by theft from the federal courts.”
“We know,” he added, “that expanding the courts is the only strategy for the administration to address the problems facing the country.”
Bauer, who does not intend to enter the administration, is himself a promoter of the terms of federal judges. He helped set up the commission in an advisory role and, according to someone familiar with the proceedings, originally proposed the idea of forming a commission to study the issue of court reform.
Progressives’ push to expand the Supreme Court was reignited after Democrats won both second-round races in Georgia in January, giving them control of all three branches of government for the first time since 2010.
But any major structural reform would still be a heavyweight, as several Democratic senators have expressed their opposition to such measures. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Monday he was waiting for Biden’s commission to decide on the way forward for Supreme Court reforms.
“President Biden set up this commission to produce a report in 180 days,” he said in an interview with MSNBC this week. “We’ll see what the commission says and go from there.”