WASHINGTON (April 27, 2022) – A new study from R Street Institute Resident Fellow Matt Germer highlights the issues with commonly proposed Supreme Court measures like term limits and court packing and recommends more targeted reforms to increase public trust.

A report from President Joe Biden’s Commission on the Supreme Court focused heavily on adding justices and setting term limits. But Germer argues that these measures would cause more harm than good. In his study, he suggests prudent, specific reforms that would address issues related to public trust, politicization and transparency.

“Instead of counterproductive and flashy measures, the judiciary would benefit from more targeted reforms: a judicial code of conduct, greater courtroom transparency, increased access to electronic records in lower courts and the filling of vacant judgeships in the lower courts,” said Germer.

Court packing and term limits, while attention-grabbing and frequent suggestions, would have significant negative impacts. As Supreme Court reforms continue to be a subject of scrutiny and debate, it would be wise for the federal government to instead adopt Germer’s judicious and reasonable reforms.

Read the full study here.

Three key points:

  1. Court packing and term limits are untenable—both politically and pragmatically—and would do nothing to resolve the escalating politicization of SCOTUS appointments.
  2. SCOTUS reforms should focus on codes of conduct and transparency as opposed to transformative and headline-grabbing changes.
  3. Although the Presidential Commission report didn’t address issues with the lower courts, those courts face challenges with access to records and judicial vacancies. Judicial reformers should focus their attention beyond SCOTUS.