It reappeared Thursday when Biden was asked during a campaign freeze in Phoenix if he would support expanding the Supreme Court beyond nine judges. Again Biden refused to answer.
“You will know my opinion on the trial when the election is over,” Biden told reporters at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. “The moment I answer that question, the headline in each of your articles will be about this instead of focusing on what’s happening now. This election has started. There has never been a judicial appointment since the start of the elections. “
After the death of Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg, however, the conversation was seriously resumed. Although the Republican-controlled Senate refused to consider President Barack Obama̵
If successful, Barrett would become President Trump’s third Supreme Court Justice and the Court would lean 6 to 3 in favor of the Conservatives.
In response, some Democrats have vowed not to leave anything on the proverbial table should the party take control of the White House and Senate. “If [the Senate] holds a vote in 2020, we grab the court in 2021. It’s that simple, ”tweeted Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.) after Ginsburg’s death. Around the same time, Senate Minority Chairman Charles E. Schumer (DN.Y.) hinted that he would not rule this out.
Republicans have taken up such proposals to label Biden and Harris as radical individuals who would certainly expand the court, presumably with liberal judges if they were elected. During the Vice Presidential Debate Wednesday night, Vice President Pence Harris repeatedly urged her to support the trial and accused her of giving a “no answer” before declaring his own conclusion.
“The American people deserve a straight answer,” said Pence. “And if you haven’t figured it out, the straightforward answer is that if they somehow win this election they’ll grab the Supreme Court.”
The reality is less clear. During the Democratic primary, nearly a dozen candidates – including moderates, progressives, and especially Harris – said they would be open to adding judges to overtake the Supreme Court. “We are about to have a crisis of confidence in the Supreme Court,” Harris told Politico in March last year. “We have to face this challenge, and everything is on the table for that.”
However, Biden specifically did not advocate the expansion of the court, saying it would further politicize the judiciary. “No, I’m not ready to go ahead and try to grab the dish because we’ll be living on the rue that day,” Biden told Iowa Starting Line last July. During a major debate a few months later, he said he would not go into the idea.
“We add three judges; Next time we’ll lose control, they add three judges, ”Biden said last October. “We are gradually losing the credibility that the court has.”
But as a candidate, Biden has become more circumspect, an implicit recognition of the complicated political calculation. Recognizing that he’s open to the idea would give Republicans ammunition to build their base, while cracking down on the trial could alienate the Democratic Party’s liberal base.
For weeks, Biden has been dodging questions about hypothetical extensions to the Supreme Court when asked. Republicans could use the question as a distraction from the GOP’s efforts to get a Supreme Court nomination through.
It “will shift focus,” Biden told WBAY News late last month. “That’s what [Trump] want. He never wants to talk about the subject and always tries to change the subject. … The discussion should be about why he is moving in a direction that is completely at odds with the wishes of the founders. The constitution says that voters can choose a president who can make the election and that the Senate can decide. “
“We are in the middle of the election right now,” he added. “You know, people are voting now. By the time the Supreme Court hears one, if they hold one, an estimated 30 to 40 percent of Americans have voted. This is a fundamental breach of the constitutional principle. It has to stay.” on it and it shouldn’t happen. “
Annie Linskey contributed to this report.