Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) threatened to “rebalance” the federal judiciary under a potential Biden presidency should Senate Republicans confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.
Coons appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” with host Jake Tapper on Sunday to comment on Barrett’s ongoing confirmation process in the Senate. Coons said that if former Vice President Joe Biden beats President Trump in November, the Delaware senator would be “open” to packing the Supreme Court in response to Barrett’s confirmation.
“Like Joe Biden, I’m not a fan of expanding the court, but we have a few weeks here to see whether there are four Republicans who will step back from this precipice,” Coons said. “It is President Trump who has pressed for this nominee so he can have a key vote to overturn the Affordable Care Act in the middle of a pandemic. It is the Republican majority that’s responsible for racing forward with this extreme, unqualified nominee—unqualified because of her extreme judicial philosophy.”
“That’s who should be bearing the brunt at the ballot box in this election, that they’re doing this to get someone on the court just in time, a week after the election, to take away critical health care protections from a majority of Americans,” Coons added. “We need to focus on that, and then if we happen to be in the fact-pattern where we have a President Biden, we’ll have to look at what the right steps are to rebalance our federal judiciary.”
Tapper pressed Coons whether his “mind is open” about packing the court, and Coons responded with a quick “yes.”
"If we happen to be in the fact pattern where we have a President Biden, we'll have to look at what the right steps are to rebalance our federal judiciary," Democratic Sen. Chris Coons says while he's "not a fan" of expanding the Supreme Court, he is open to it #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/qvcjd4LxZ5
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) October 18, 2020
During an Oct. 15 town hall, Biden said that he, as president, would consider supporting a proposal to pack the Supreme Court depending on “how it’s handled,” referring to Barrett’s confirmation.
Pushed to clarify that statement, Biden responded, “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.”
“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,” he added.
“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,” Biden said.
Biden also walked-back a previous assertion of his that voters do not “deserve” to know his position on court packing until after the election, saying voters “have a right to know where” he stands before they cast a ballot. He committed to revealing his stance on packing the court before Nov. 3.