Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden appeared to tip his hand during last night’s ABC News presidential town hall on whether he will pack the Supreme Court if elected, suggesting that he is open to the idea “depending” on the outcome of Supreme Court confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett.
“Here’s what you said exactly one year ago tonight at a Democratic debate. You said, ‘I would not get into court packing. I would not pack the court,'” ABC News host George Stephanopoulos said. “That’s not what you’re saying now. Is the nomination of Judge Barrett reason enough to rethink your position?”
“What I wanted to do, George, you know if I had answered the question directly then all the focus would be on, what’s Biden going to do if he wins? Instead of on, is it appropriate what is going on now? And it should stay—this is the thing that the President loves to do, always take our eye off the ball what’s at stake,” Biden responded. “One of the things Pete has suggested is, and there’s a number of constitutional scholars have suggested as well, that there are at least four or five options that are available to determine whether or not you can change the way in which the court lifetime appointment takes place consistent arguably with the Constitution. I have not been a fan of court-packing because then it just generates what will happen, whoever wins, it just keeps moving in a way that is inconsistent with what is going to be manageable.”
“So you’re still not a fan?” Stephanopoulos pressed.
“Well, I’m not a fan. It depends on how this turns out. Not how he wins, but how it’s handled, how it’s handled,” Biden responded. “But there’s a number of things that are going to be coming up, and there’s going to be a lot of discussion about other alternatives as well.”
“What does that mean, ‘how it’s handled’?” Stephanopoulos pressed.
“For example, there’s actually real live debate on the floor, if people are really going to be able to have a time to go through this,” Biden responded. “I don’t know anybody who’s gone on the floor that’s been a controversial justice in terms of making fundamentally or altering the makeup of the court that’s gone through in a day kind of thing. I mean, it depends on how much they rush this. And you think about it, George, here you got a lot of people not [being] able to pay their mortgage, not being able to put food on the table, not being able to keep their business open, not being able to do anything to deal with what’s going on in terms of the economy as a consequence of COVID, and they have no time to deal with that—but they have time to rush this through.”
“Well, right now it looks like they’re going to have a vote around Halloween,” Stephanopoulos continued. “If they vote on it before the election, you are open to expanding the court?”
“I’m open to considering what happens from that point on,” Biden answered.
Biden later added that voters “have a right to know where” he stands on the issue “before they vote” and, when pressed by Stephanopoulos, he said that he will come out with a clear position before election day.
“So you’ll come out with a clear position before election day?” Stephanopoulos asked.
“Yes,” Biden answered. “Depending on how they handle this.”
Pressed repeatedly by @GStephanopoulos on his position on court packing, Joe Biden says, “I’m not a fan … it depends on how this turns out,” adding that it depends on how Republicans handle the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. https://t.co/JEyTOkB6qk pic.twitter.com/rpcrzh5aRO
— ABC News (@ABC) October 16, 2020