Federal Courts and Nominations

RELEASE: As Supreme Court Commission Studies Court Reform, Biden Administration Should Broadly Commit to Improving Access to Justice

WASHINGTON – On the White House today announcing the formation of a commission to study potential Supreme Court reform measures, Constitutional Accountability Center President Elizabeth Wydra issued the following reaction: 

CAC welcomes President Biden’s announcement of a Supreme Court commission, as structural change to the Court requires a thoughtful presentation to the American people of how such reforms will improve equal justice for all and build back public confidence in the Court. We hope that in the process of preparing its report, the Commission takes the time to listen to the voices of people directly impacted by the Court, the disempowered who turn to the judiciary to vindicate their rights and invoke the power of the Court to further accountability and justice, and those who represent them in our justice system. 

While much of the spotlight has been on adding seats to the Supreme Court, attention must be paid to such key issues as reforming the shadow docket, instituting a code of ethics and standards for recusal, and providing greater public transparency (through cameras or live audio in the courtroom, for instance)  

Today’s press release notes that the formation of this Commission is “part of the Administration’s commitment to closely study measures to improve the federal judiciary, including those that would expand access [to] the court system.” I urge the Administration to make improving the judiciary and access to justice a priority, with a lens much broader than the highly debated Supreme Court reform questions.  From ensuring the lower courts have sufficient resources to administer justice, to ensuring a bench with judges from diverse personal and professional backgrounds, to addressing barriers to court access, there are serious challenges to the judiciary’s ability to function and deliver justice for all in America that must be addressed.

Resources:

CAC’s work on federal courts and nominations: https://www.theusconstitution.org/issues/federal-courts-nominations/

“The Judicial Conference Rightly Continues to Request Additional Judgeships,” Becca Damante, CAC Blog, March 18, 2021: https://www.theusconstitution.org/blog/the-judicial-conference-rightly-continues-to-request-additional-judgeships/

“There’s more to repairing federal courts than Supreme Court expansion,” Elizabeth Wydra, The Hill, February 10, 2021: https://thehill.com/opinion/judiciary/538176-theres-more-to-repairing-federal-courts-than-supreme-court-expansion

“Diversifying the Federal Bench is Not Merely a Box-Checking Exercise,” Kristine Kippins, CAC Blog, March 5, 2019: https://www.theusconstitution.org/blog/diversifying-the-federal-bench-is-not-merely-a-box-checking-exercise/

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Constitutional Accountability Center is a think tank, public interest law firm, and action center dedicated to fulfilling the progressive promise of the Constitution’s text and history. Visit CAC’s website at www.theusconstitution.org.

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