(WASHINGTON) — President Joe Biden remains unmoved on the issue of court expansion, the White House said, despite his criticism of the Supreme Court rulings handed down this week on gun rights and abortion.
“That is something that the president does not agree with,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters aboard Air Force One on Saturday when asked about such a reform. “That is not something that he wants to do.”
Democrats and activists are floating the idea after the high court expanded gun rights and did away with 50 years of precedent to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts and others expressly called for expanding the court in the wake of the decision on abortion access.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams said court expansion is “critical.”
“We need to balance out this court before they do more harm than what they’ve done thus far,” Adams said at a press conference on Friday, where he said he wouldn’t have become the city’s leader if his former partner didn’t get an abortion when they were in their teens.
Biden has never expressed great interest in expanding the high court, even when many of his opponents in the 2020 Democratic primary for president were supportive of the reform.
After he was elected, Biden appointed a 36-member bipartisan commission to study potential changes to the Supreme Court — including the addition of more seats, as well as term limits and a code of ethics for justices.
The commission unanimously adopted a report late last year, in which they warned that excessive change to the institution could cause democracy to regress in the future.
The panel found “considerable” support for 18-year term limits for justices, but the issue of expanding the court beyond nine seats was met with “profound disagreement.”
“There was a commission that was put together about how to potentially move forward with the court, reform the court,” Jean-Pierre said Saturday. “I don’t have anything more to share from any final decision that the president has made.”
Biden has issued forceful condemnations of both Supreme Court decisions.
He described being “deeply disappointed” in the June 23 ruling striking down a century-old New York law limiting concealed handguns in public, stating it “contradicts common sense and the Constitution, and should deeply trouble us all.”
The Roe repeal, he said, was a “sad day” for the Supreme Court and the nation.
“Make no mistake: This decision is the culmination of a deliberate effort over decades to upset the balance of our law,” he said Friday in remarks delivered from the Cross Hall of the White House. “It’s a realization of an extreme ideology and a tragic error by the Supreme Court, in my view.”
In response, Biden said he was instructing federal agencies to protect nationwide access to federally approved medication like contraception, and employed the Department of Justice to ensure women can travel out-of-state for abortion services where the procedure is legal.
The president continued his criticism on Saturday, telling reporters that the Supreme Court “has made some terrible decisions.”
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