The makeup of the Supreme Court, always a hot-button issue, ignited again in 2016 when Democrats declared that Republicans gained an unfair advantage by blocking Obama's nomination of then-Judge Merrick Garland, now Biden's attorney general, to fill the seat left empty by the death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia. "Presidents come and go".
The Supreme Court has had nine members since just after the Civil War.
Biden pledged to create the commission during an October television interview.
The unsigned order for the high court majority also revealed the deep ideological fissure, with conservatives (including the three appointees of former President Donald Trump) in control and liberals dissenting bitterly.
The commission's creation comes six months after the controversial confirmation of conservative judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court following the September 2020 death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a liberal icon.
The commission will have 36 members, some of them prominent names. Among the commissioners are renowned constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe, NAACP President Sherrilyn Ifill, Brennan Center for Justice President Michael Waldman, and voting rights expert Michael Kang.
"This White House judicial reform commission has a historic opportunity to both explain the gravity of the threat and to help contain it". Most legal scholars agree that ending the lifetime tenure of a Supreme Court justice would require a Constitutional Amendment to change.
The commission will be co-chaired by NYU School of Law professor and former White House counsel Bob Bauer and Yale Law School professor Cristina Rodriguez, who served as a deputy assistant AG for the Justice Department.
The 36-member commission will be co-chaired by former White House Counsel under President Barack Obama, Bob Bauer, who now serves as the Professor of Practice and Distinguished Scholar in Residence at New York University School of Law, and Yale Law School Professor Cristina Rodriguez, who previously served as deputy assistant attorney general in the DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel, also under Obama. "We plan to spend the coming months organizing additional support at the grassroots level and working with members of Congress who already understand the urgency here to file legislation".
White House press secretary Jen Psaki, asked Friday what the president makes of the call for Breyer to step aside, said that Biden "believes that is a decision for Justice Breyer to make".
The order directs the commission to complete its report within 180 days of its first public meeting.
Changes to the court are vehemently opposed by its current members, including Justice Stephen Breyer, the court's most senior liberal, who warned Tuesday that partisan proposals to expand the bench would hurt the institution's credibility.