Expanding US Supreme Court

The Biden administration has created a bipartisan commission to study reforms within the Supreme Court as well as a broader review of the court system and the House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee recently held hearings on the need for more federal judges and other court reforms.

Ryan Vacca, a professor at the University of New Hampshire Franklin Pierce School of Law with an expertise in federal judiciary reform, and who recently advised the House in advance of the hearing, is available to discuss the problems plaguing the federal judicial system, how and why previous efforts have failed, arguments for and against court packing, and how the reforms might be structured to avoid past problems.

“For the commission to succeed and actually solve the serious problems plaguing the federal judiciary, the most important thing the commission can do is to understand how and why previous efforts have failed and to devise a plan to overcome those barriers,” said Vacca.

Vacca points out that the federal judiciary serves as a critical part of the foundation of the American republic and reform has never come easily or quickly. As co-author of an article in the California Law Review, Revisiting and Confronting the Federal Judiciary Capacity “Crisis”: Charting a Path for Federal Judiciary Reform, he details the history of reform efforts; analyzes the data on federal court caseloads and performance; explores the political, institutional, and human causes of the logjam; and offers an antidote to overcome these hurdles—a commission that recommends reforms that do not go into effect for a decade, which he refers to as the “2030 Commission.” By delaying implementation of the recommendations, the commission members and other stakeholders, like members of Congress and current judges, are effectively working behind a veil of ignorance that enables them to fairly focus on the best interests of future generations of citizens, judges and practitioners while still drawing on their own experiences.

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