(Dec. 9) 

The draft report of the “Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court of the United States” lived up to the hopes , not down to the fears , some of us held for it.

In the end, the report’s best part may have been one appendix that analyzed an issue related to, but not entirely within, the commission’s original purview — namely, the political blood sport that the Senate’s judicial confirmation process has become.

he whole report, released Dec. 7, is a surprisingly fair-minded 288-page tome on the history of and proposed reforms of the high court’s size, structure, and jurisdiction. Conservatives’ fears increased when President Joe Biden, by the Wall Street Journal’s count, included 29 liberals on the 34-person commission. The report wisely avoided making itself a stalking horse for leftists who aim to “pack the court ” by increasing its size.

The commission makes no recommendations on that or other proposals. Instead, it studiously gives ample and nonpejorative airing of both sides of major proposals to reform aspects of the Supreme Court. There are a considerable number of such proposals, and policy wonks will find the report a near nirvana.

Let’s focus here, though, on Appendix C. The commission was not assigned the task of analyzing the Senate’s process for considering judicial nominations, but in that appendix, it nonetheless highlights important, thoughtful testimony it received on that subject. As I wrote in April, the biggest “problem isn’t how the Supreme Court operates, but rather how the Senate runs the nomination process … [in which] the use of anonymous leaks, the abuse (and subsequent elimination) of filibusters as a weapon in confirmation battles, and the level of vitriol are all out of control.”

The commission seemed to agree in large part. Despite its lack of purview on the topic, it included a superb reformist recommendation by Jeffrey J. Peck, who served (under then-Sen. Joe Biden) as staff director of the Senate Judiciary Committee. … [The full column is here.]


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