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Biden Ponders SCOTUS Limits, Ethics    07/17 06:01

   President Joe Biden is seriously considering proposals to establish term 
limits for U.S. Supreme Court justices, and an ethics code that would be 
enforceable under law amid growing concerns that the justices are not held 
accountable, according to three people briefed on the plans.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Joe Biden is seriously considering proposals to 
establish term limits for U.S. Supreme Court justices, and an ethics code that 
would be enforceable under law amid growing concerns that the justices are not 
held accountable, according to three people briefed on the plans.

   It would mark a major shift for Biden, the former head of the Senate 
Judiciary Committee, who has long resisted calls to reform the high court, 
though since taking office he has been increasingly vocal about his belief that 
the court is abandoning mainstream constitutional interpretation. The details 
were first reported by The Washington Post.

   Any changes would require congressional approval, which would be unlikely in 
a divided Congress. But with Republican nominee Donald Trump bragging about 
putting the three justices on the high court who are now part of the 
conservative majority, Biden's call for major changes could help animate his 
voters.

   Biden is also considering calling for a constitutional amendment that would 
eliminate the broad immunity for presidents granted by the court in its most 
recent term, after Donald Trump claimed he was immune from prosecution for his 
actions on Jan. 6, 2021, when a mob of his supporters violently descended on 
the U.S. Capitol.

   The people were not authorized to speak publicly about proposals that have 
not been finalized and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

   The consideration of such proposals comes in response to growing outrage 
among Democrats about high court opinions that overturned landmark decisions on 
abortion rights and federal regulatory powers that had stood for decades. There 
have also been increasing questions surrounding the ethics of the court after 
revelations about some of the justices, including that Clarence Thomas had 
accepted luxury trips from a GOP megadonor.

   Biden in an interview with BET on Tuesday predicted "there are probably 
going to be two more appointments" in the coming four years when justices 
retire and blamed Trump for nominating three conservative justices who helped 
overturn Roe v. Wade. "Just imagine if he has two more appointments, what that 
means," he said.

   The Supreme Court did not immediately respond to a request for comment on 
the proposal.

   Biden, speaking in a weekend call with the Congressional Progressive Caucus, 
talked about the possibility, the people said. Biden often tells voters they 
need more Democrats in Congress and a Democrat in the White House to counter 
the impact of the conservative-leaning court, but these proposals would go much 
further.

   "And by the way, I'm going to need your help on the Supreme Court, because 
I'm about to come out. I don't want to prematurely announce it, but I'm about 
to come out with a major initiative on limiting the court and what we do and -- 
I've been working with constitutional scholars for the last three months, and I 
need some help," he said, according to a transcript of the call.

   About 2 in 3 Americans say they favor term limits or a mandatory retirement 
age for Supreme Court justices, according to a 2022 poll from the Associated 
Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

   According to June survey on the court, confidence remains low: 4 in 10 U.S. 
adults say they have hardly any confidence in the people running the Supreme 
Court.

   The survey found that 7 in 10 Americans think the high court's justices are 
more influenced by ideology, while only about 3 in 10 U.S. adults think the 
justices are more likely to provide an independent check on other branches of 
government by being fair and impartial.

   In November, the court adopted its first code of ethics. The policy, agreed 
to by all nine justices, does not appear to impose any significant new 
requirements and leaves compliance entirely to each justice.

   Republicans have focused for years on remaking the federal judiciary and 
Supreme Court. When Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., was the majority leader, he 
refused to even meet in 2016 with Obama's pick for the high court -- current 
Attorney General Merrick Garland, a federal judge at that time. The nomination 
stalled until a Republican president, Trump, took over.

   Establishment GOP operatives backed Trump because of his pledge to name as 
many judges to the bench as possible. Their gamble worked. Trump ended up with 
three Supreme Court nominees and 54 federal appeals court judges, reshaping the 
courts for a generation.

   Democrats are now finally understanding the power of judges as a voting 
tool, and Biden has made judicial nominations a priority, appointing a record 
number of judges for a president at this point in his first term, including 
some of the most diverse picks yet to the judiciary. Biden often speaks about 
those accomplishments during his reelection campaign, but Democrats have pushed 
him to go further.

   Trump, in a post on his Truth Social platform, panned the possible Biden 
move, saying: "The Democrats are attempting to interfere in the Presidential 
Election, and destroy our Justice System, by attacking their Political 
Opponent, ME, and our Honorable Supreme Court. We have to fight for our Fair 
and Independent Courts, and protect our Country."

 
 
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