Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden declined to answer whether he would pack the Supreme Court if elected president as retribution for Republicans confirming President Trump’s nominee to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before the general election.
In an interview with a local Wisconsin TV News station, Biden was asked if he wins the election with Democrats winning both chambers of Congress would he consider adding more seats to the Supreme Court.
“It’s a legitimate question, but let me tell you why I’m not going answer that question,” Biden told Action 2 News.
Biden added that he doesn’t want to “shift the focus” if he were to answer the question and give President Trump the ammo needed to “change the subject” and make the debate “about what Biden said or didn’t say, Biden said he would or wouldn’t.”
“It will shift the focus, that’s what [Trump] wants, he never wants to talk about the issue at hand and he always tries to change the subject. Let’s say I answer that question, then the whole debate gonna be about what Biden said or didn’t say, Biden said he would or wouldn’t.”
The former Vice President has said on more than one occasion in the past that he long oppose the idea of court-packing. During one of the Democratic primary debate last October, Biden was asked about court-packing to which he said such action would cause Democrats to “lose control” and to “lose any credibility the court has.”
In an interview with the New York Times Editorial Board in January, Biden was asked if he supports “expanding the size of the Supreme Court,” or any major government structural reforms Democrats have proposed.
“None,” Biden replied. “Because that structural change requires constitutional amendments. It raises problems that are more damaging than the problem that exists. There are other areas where if you were to change the rule, first of all, if you couldn’t get it changed, if you can’t get 60 votes, the fact that you’re going to amend the Constitution on judicial independence is kind of a stretch.”
However, Biden’s running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) said she wouldn’t rule out the idea in expanding the court prior to the death of Ginsburg.
“We are on the verge of a crisis of confidence in the Supreme Court,” Harris said last year to Politico. “We have to take this challenge head-on, and everything is on the table to do that.”
While campaigning in Green Bay, Wisconsin, Biden largely ignored mentioning anything regarding the Supreme Court vacancy during his speech. But he couldn’t escape the issue when local reporters were able to ask the Democratic nominee on the topic.
During his TV interview, Biden called the decision for Trump to quickly move to fill Ginsburg’s seat a “fundamental breach of constitutional principle,” and inaccurately interpretation the constitution by saying that “voters get to pick the president who gets to make the pick and the Senate gets to decide.”
“The discussion should be about why he is moving in a direction that’s totally inconsistent with what founders wanted,” Biden said, arguing that over 40 percent of voters would cast its ballot before a Supreme Court hearing occurs. “The Constitution says voters get to pick a president who gets to make the pick and the senate gets to decide. It is a fundamental breach of constitutional principle. It must stay on that and it shouldn’t happen.”
Under Article II, Section. 2 of the U.S. Constitution, the president has the power to nominate whomever he wants as long as he is in the White House. The Constitution also doesn’t say anything regarding the timing for a president to nominate or whether the Senate can or can’t hold a confirmation hearing during a presidential election.