President Biden will today issue an executive order forming the Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court of the United States, comprised of a bipartisan group of experts on the Court and the Court reform debate. In addition to legal and other scholars, the Commissioners includes former federal judges and practitioners who have appeared before the Court, as well as advocates for the reform of democratic institutions and of the administration of justice. The expertise represented on the Commission includes constitutional law, history and political science.
The Commission’s purpose is to 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. The topics it will examine include the genesis of the reform debate; the Court’s role in the Constitutional system; the length of service and turnover of justices on the Court; the membership and size of the Court; and the Court’s case selection, rules, and practices.
To ensure that the Commission’s report is comprehensive and informed by a diverse spectrum of views, it will hold public meetings to hear the views of other experts, and groups and interested individuals with varied perspectives on the issues it will be examining. The Executive Order directs that the Commission complete its report within 180 days of its first public meeting. This action is part of the Administration’s commitment to closely study measures to improve the federal judiciary, including those that would expand access the court system.
Thomas B. Griffith served on the U. S. Court of Appeals for the D. C. Circuit from 2005 – 2020. He is now Special Counsel at Hunton Andrews Kurth, a Senior Advisor to the National Institute for Civil Discourse, and a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School. During his tenure on the D.C. Circuit, Judge Griffith served on the Judicial Conference’s Committee on the Judicial Branch, which is concerned with the federal judiciary’s relationship to the Executive Branch and Congress, and the Code of Conduct Committee, which sets the ethical standards that govern the federal judiciary. Prior to his appointment to the D.C. Circuit, Judge Griffith was the General Counsel of Brigham Young University. Previously he served as Senate Legal Counsel, the nonpartisan chief legal officer of the U.S. Senate, and before that was a partner at Wiley, Rein & Fielding. Judge Griffith has long been active in the American Bar Association’s rule of law projects in Eastern Europe and Eurasia and is currently a member of the International Advisory Board of the CEELI Institute in Prague. He is a graduate of Brigham Young University and the University of Virginia School of Law.