Amid debates about the size and scope of the Supreme Court, Professor Keith Whittington and University alumni Heather Gerken ’91, Richard Pildes ’79, and Bertrall Ross GS ’03 have been appointed to President Joe Biden’s Commission on the Supreme Court of the United States. They will be part of a bipartisan group of legal and other scholars who will create a report with arguments for and against Supreme Court reform.
Biden issued an executive order creating the 36-member commission on April 9. The White House press release states that the commission will “provide an analysis of the principal arguments in the contemporary public debate for and against Supreme Court reform, including an appraisal of the merits and legality of particular reform proposals.”
Progressive activists have encouraged adding additional seats to the Supreme Court to counteract the 6-3 conservative majority. Biden has not publicly supported expanding the Court, but his establishment of the commission fulfills a plan he announced during his campaign to study potential avenues for reform.
The commission will consider topics such as the membership and size of the Court, the length of service of the justices, and the Court’s case selection. It will hold public meetings to solicit input from a variety of stakeholders “to ensure that the Commission’s report is comprehensive and informed by a diverse spectrum of views,” according to the press release. The commission must finish its report within 180 days of its first public meeting.
Whittington is the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Politics and the chair of the Academic Freedom Alliance. As a scholar of American constitutional history and political thought, his books include “Repugnant Laws: Judicial Review of Acts of Congress from the Founding to the Present” and “Political Foundations of Judicial Supremacy: The Presidency, the Supreme Court, and Constitutional Leadership in U.S. History.”
Whittington confirmed his appointment to the commission and expressed his excitement for the work ahead of him in an email to The Daily Princetonian.
“I’m looking forward to getting started on what should be an interesting and important project,” he wrote.
Gerken is the Dean and Sol & Lillian Goldman Professor of Law at Yale Law School. She studies federalism, diversity, and dissent and is considered a founder of the “nationalist school” of federalism.
Pildes is the Sudler Family Professor of Constitutional Law at New York University School of Law. He studies many different components of the political process, such as the structure of American government and the powers of the President, Congress, and the Supreme Court.
Ross is the Chancellor’s Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law. He focuses on constitutional law, election law, statutory interpretation, and administrative law. Ross was a Princeton University Law and Public Affairs Fellow from 2013-2014.
Gerken, Pildes, and Ross were not available for comment at the time of publication.