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Supreme Court Justices at Biden's inauguration in January 2021. Photo: Patrick Semansky/AP Photo/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden will sign an executive order Friday that creates a bipartisan commission to study a number of Supreme Court reforms, including expanding the number of seats on the court, the White House said.

Why it matters: The six-month commission, promised by Biden throughout the 2020 election, will provide an analysis of the principal arguments surrounding the divisive subject. Progressives are pushing for more seats after former President Trump appointed three justices to the court.

Context: Biden has not said definitively whether he supports adding seats to the court, though his congressional allies — including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer — have advocated for additional seats as a response to Republicans quickly filling former Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's seat during an election year.

  • Democrats also advocated for additional seats after the confirmation of Trump's first appointee, Neil Gorsuch.
  • The backlash came after Senate Republicans refused to hold a confirmation hearing for President Obama's nominee Merrick Garland in 2016, arguing that it was an election year.

The big picture: The 36-member commission, comprised of law professors, constitutional scholars and former judges, will examine 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, and the court’s case selection, rules and practices.

  • The commission hold public meetings to hear the views of other experts on the subject and will complete a report six months after its first meeting.
  • The report will include "an appraisal of the merits and legality of particular reform proposals," according to the White House.
  • Bob Bauer, a New York University School of Law professor and a former White House Counsel, and Cristina Rodriguez, a Yale Law School professor and former deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Justice, will co-chair the commission.

Between the lines: Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer warned this week that efforts to expand the court's bench could damage public faith in the institution, stating that Americans rely on "a trust that the court is guided by legal principle, not politics."

  • In response, Demand Justice, a progressive group created to reform the federal court system, started an online petition demanding Breyer's retirement, according to Politico.

Go deeper

New Mexico eliminates qualified immunity

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham in Santa Fe in August 2019. Photo: Steven St John/Bloomberg via Getty Images

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) signed a law Wednesday that eliminates a legal defense known as qualified immunity, making it easier to sue government employees, including police officers, for civil rights violations.

Why it matters: New Mexico is now the third state to eliminate qualified immunity as a national debate unfolds on legal protections for police officers sparked by the 2020 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Updated 2 hours ago - World

500 Hong Kong police officers raid pro-democracy newspaper

Chief Operations Officer Chow Tat Kuen (front 2nd R) is escorted by police from the Apple Daily newspaper offices before being put into a waiting vehicle in Hong Kong on Thursday. Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP via Getty Images

Hong Kong's Apple Daily said 500 police officers searched the pro-democracy newspaper's offices and arrested five senior executives on Thursday.

Why it matters: The arrests of the paper's chief editor, Ryan Law, along with its chief operating officer, two other editors and the CEO of Next Digital, which operates Apple Daily, were made under China's national security law — which gives the government broad power to limit people's political freedom.

World Bank rejects El Salvador's request to help implement bitcoin

President Nayib Bukele, giving a speech in El Salvador's legislative assembly in San Salvado earlier this month, pushed for bitcoin to become legal tender. Photo: Emerson Flores/APHOTOGRAFIA/Getty Images

The World Bank has rejected the government of El Salvador's request to help the country implement Bitcoin as legal tender, Reuters first reported late Wednesday.

Why it matters: The international lender's rejection could hamper the government's goal of making the digital currency accepted across the country within three months.