Elise Boddie, Henry Rutgers Professor, Professor of Law and Judge Robert L. Carter Scholar at Rutgers University–Newark has been appointed by President Biden to the Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court. She joins other national legal experts who will look at the makeup and size of the Court and its case selection, according to a news release from the White House on Friday, April 9.
Boddie, an award-winning and nationally-recognized civil rights and constitutional scholar, was previously the Director of Litigation for the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. and is the founder of The Inclusion Project at Rutgers Law School-Newark. She is engaged with communities, students, faith leaders, educators, and researchers in a multisector initiative to build equitable education systems in New Jersey public schools.
She was recently named the Newark Director of the Institute for the Study of Global Racial Justice at Rutgers University. The Institute, an initiative of Rutgers University President Jonathan Holloway, is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and amplifies scholarship in the humanities, focusing especially on anti-racism and social inequality. The Institute will establish a vibrant intellectual space for research, the arts, and public engagement across Rutgers’ campuses.
“Elise’s insights are just what President Biden’s commission needs,” said Rutgers-Newark Chancellor Nancy Cantor. “She has distinguished herself nationally as an attorney working precisely at the intersection of advocacy and scholarship on racial justice, issues that reflect so sharply Rutgers-Newark’s identity and that are at the very core of the commission’s charge. Her appointment gives us hope that the commission’s work will make a real difference, just as Elise’s own work has done.”
The Presidential Commission is comprised of a bipartisan group of experts on the Court and the Court reform debate. Its purpose is to provide an analysis of the principal arguments in the contemporary public debate for and against Supreme Court reform, including an appraisal of the merits and legality of particular reform proposals. The topics it will examine include 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; the membership and size of the Court; and the Court’s case selection, rules, and practices, according to the White House.
To ensure that the Commission’s report is comprehensive and informed by a diverse spectrum of views, it will hold public meetings to hear the views of other experts, and groups and interested individuals with varied perspectives on the issues it will be examining. The President’s Executive Order directs that the Commission complete its report within 180 days of its first public meeting. This action is part of the Administration’s commitment to closely study measures to improve the federal judiciary, including those that would expand access the court system.
Boddie’s commentary has appeared multiple times in The New York Times, as well as in The Washington Post, among other national news outlets. She has served on the national board of the American Constitution Society and the board of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Boddie was the Coordinator for Hillary Clinton's Civil Rights & Racial Justice Working Policy Group.
"Professor Boddie has long been a leader for civil and constitutional rights and will provide an important viewpoint on the commission,” said Rutgers Law School Co-Dean David Lopez. “She is an excellent choice to review the important matter of studying the current Supreme Court structure."
An honors graduate of Harvard Law School and Yale, Boddie also holds a master’s degree in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She clerked for Judge Robert L. Carter in the Southern District of New York.
Boddie has been the recipient of many accolades. In 2020, the Urban League of Essex County gave her its Whitney M. Young, Jr. award in recognition of her efforts to create opportunity in low-income communities. She was elected to the American Law Institute in 2017 and as an American Bar Foundation Fellow in 2019. In 2016, Rutgers University President Robert Barchi appointed her a Henry Rutgers Professor in recognition of her "high quality scholarship, teaching, and service."