Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Monday ruled out the idea of considering term limits for Supreme Court justices, but raised the possibility of rotating justices “from one court to another court.”
During an impromptu campaign stop Monday afternoon in Chester, Pa., 15 miles near his Delaware home, Biden was asked by campaign pool reporters if his plan for a “bipartisan commission” would study term limits in what he called an “out of whack” court system.
“You mentioned that as part of your commission, you would look at how long justices serve on the court, does that mean that you’re hoping for term limits?” a reporter asked Biden.
“No, no no no no,” Biden interjected. “There is a question about whether or not it’s a lifetime appointment. I’m not going to try to change that at all.”
“There is some literature among constitutional scholars about the possibility of going from one court to another court, not just always staying the whole time in the Supreme Court,” Biden continued.
He added, “But I have made no judgment… they’re just a group of serious constitutional scholars, who have a number of ideas how we should proceed from this point on. That’s what we’re going to be doing. We’re going to give them 180 days, God-willing, if I’m elected, from the time I’m sworn in, to be able to make such a recommendation.”
The Democratic hopeful didn’t elaborate further on the idea of rotating judges between the Supreme Court and lower courts, known as “rotate judges” and wasn’t further pressed for clarification on the matter by reporters either.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) endorsed the proposal in early 2020. The variation on court-packing was first outlined in a 2018 paper by law professors Daniel Epps and Ganesh Sitaraman. The proposal “normally expands the size of the court to some 180 judges, then provides for how the court would hear the cases.”
In an interview with “60 Minutes,” Biden refused to take a position on whether he was in favor or against court-packing, instead saying if elected will put together a bipartisan commission to study and provide recommendations for reforming the court system.
However, Biden vowed during an ABC town hall in mid-October that he would give a “clear position” on this issue before the election, with his response to be determined based on how the Senate “handled” the floor process before Barrett is confirmed to the Supreme Court.
The GOP-controlled Senate is set to vote to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court later Monday evening, followed by a swearing-in ceremony at the White House.