Last Friday, President Biden appointed 16 members of the Harvard Law School community to a new presidential commission on the Supreme Court of the United States. The 36-member panel, which includes seven Harvard Law School faculty members and nine alumni from across the political spectrum, is tasked with studying the origins of the debate around Supreme Court reform, the Court’s role in the American constitutional system, and the legality and desirability of various reform proposals.
Recently, some Democrats and other would-be reformers have called for expanding the Supreme Court’s bench, imposing term or age limits, and other amendments. Others, such as Associate Justice Stephen G. Breyer ’64, have warned that such changes could be detrimental to the Court’s reputation, or might result in tit-for-tat reforms by future leaders.
While campaigning for the presidency, Biden said he was “not a fan of court packing,” but promised to study possible reforms if elected. The new commission, which includes legal scholars, policy experts, and former judges, will consider “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.” The panel is expected to release its findings and recommendations within six months.
Harvard Law School faculty commissioners include:
Guy-Uriel E. Charles, a leading expert in constitutional law, election law, campaign finance, redistricting, politics and race, will join Harvard Law School on July 1, 2021, as the inaugural Charles J. Ogletree Jr. Professor of Law. Charles, who will also serve as director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice, studies the relationship between law and political power, and is currently working on a book with Luis Fuentes-Rohwer, a professor at Indiana University, Bloomington, on the past and future of voting rights.
Andrew Manuel Crespo is a professor at Harvard Law School, where he teaches criminal law and procedure and serves as the executive faculty director of the Institute to End Mass Incarceration. Professor Crespo’s research and scholarly expertise center on the institutional design, power structures, legal frameworks, and political economy of the American penal system, and he is nationally recognized for his expertise on a range of legal issues.
Richard H. Fallon Jr. is the Story Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and an affiliate professor in the Government Department at Harvard University. Fallon has written extensively about constitutional law and federal courts law, and is the author of “The Nature of Constitutional Rights: The Invention and Logic of Strict Judicial Scrutiny” (Cambridge University Press, 2019); “Law and Legitimacy in the Supreme Court” (Harvard University Press, 2018); “The Dynamic Constitution” (Cambridge University Press, 2d ed. 2013); and “Implementing the Constitution” (Harvard University Press, 2001).
Nancy Gertner served as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts from 1994 to 2011 and is now a senior lecturer on law at Harvard Law School, where she teaches subjects including criminal law, criminal procedure, forensic science, and sentencing. Named one of the “Most Influential Lawyers of the Past 25 Years” by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, Gertner has published widely on sentencing, discrimination, forensic evidence, women’s rights, and the jury system.
Jack Goldsmith is the Learned Hand Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, and co-founder of Lawfare. He teaches and writes about national security law, presidential power, cybersecurity, international law, internet law, foreign relations law, and federal courts. With Bob Bauer, Goldsmith recently authored “After Trump: Reconstructing the Presidency,” described as a comprehensive roadmap for reforming the presidency.
Thomas B. Griffith, who served as a lecturer on law at Harvard Law School during Winter 2021, was a judge on the U. S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit from 2005 to 2020. He is now special counsel at Hunton Andrews Kurth, and a senior adviser to the National Institute for Civil Discourse. During his tenure on the D.C. Circuit, 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.
Laurence H. Tribe is the Carl M. Loeb University Professor and Professor of Constitutional Law Emeritus at Harvard, and an expert on constitutional law and the Supreme Court of the United States. Tribe has taught at Harvard since 1968, and has argued 35 cases in front of the Supreme Court. He was appointed in 2010 by President Obama to serve as the first senior counselor for the Office of Access to Justice. He has written 115 books and articles, most recently, “To End a Presidency: The Power of Impeachment.” His treatise, “American Constitutional Law,” has been cited more than any other legal text since 1950.
Harvard Law School alumni commissioners:
- Michelle Adams LL.M. ’94, professor of law at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law
- Jack M. Balkin ’81, Knight Professor of Constitutional Law and the First Amendment at Yale Law School
- Elise Boddie ’96, professor of law and Judge Robert L. Carter Scholar at Rutgers University
- Justin Driver ’04, Robert R. Slaughter Professor of Law at Yale Law School
- Tara Leigh Grove ’02, Charles E. Tweedy, Jr., Endowed Chairholder of Law and director of the Program in Constitutional Studies at the University of Alabama School of Law
- Bert I. Huang ’03, Michael I. Sovern Professor of Law at Columbia University
- Richard H. Pildes ’83, Sudler Family Professor of Constitutional Law at New York University School of Law
- David A. Strauss ’78, Gerald Ratner Distinguished Service Professor of Law and the faculty director of the Supreme Court and Appellate Clinic at the University of Chicago
- Adam White ’04, an assistant professor of law at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School and a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute