Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in an interview with CBS News’ “60 Minutes” said if elected, he will put together a “bipartisan commission” of legal scholars that will be tasked to study and provide recommendations to reform the “out of whack” judicial system, his latest punt on taking a clear position as to whether he would pack the Supreme Court.
“If elected, what I will do is I’ll put together a national commission of — bipartisan commission of scholars, constitutional scholars, Democrats, Republicans, liberal, conservative,” Biden said in the 60 Minutes preview with the full interview scheduled to air Sunday. “And I will ask them to over 180 days come back to me with recommendations as to how to reform the court system because it’s getting out of whack — the way in which it’s being handled and it’s not about court-packing.”
“There’s a number of other things that our constitutional scholars have debated and I’ve looked to see what recommendations that commission might make,” Biden added.
The issue to take a stance regarding court-packing has become front in center after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. President Trump shortly after nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett in late September and Senate Republicans pledged to confirm the nominee before Election Day.
Senate Democrats, angered that Republicans are refusing to wait until after the election to fill the seat with some threatening to make this option a reality only if they win back the Senate majority as retaliation. The threat has become an effective sustained line of attack for both sides in campaign ads with some being able to raise campaign funds over the last three weeks. Republicans are showing voters the importance of keeping the Senate majority hold as well as the importance of re-electing Trump to prevent the Democrats threat from becoming a reality. Meanwhile, Democrats are pointing to Barrett’s confirmation using her views to claim will be a vote to overthrow the Affordable Care Act that is scheduled to be ruled a week after Election Day and possibly overthrow Roe v. Wade as reasoning to pack the court.
It also has become a double edge sword for Biden. Throughout his four-decade political career, Biden has expressed opposition to adding justices on the high court, calling the issue a “political football.” If he reiterates what he use to believe, he risks angering the majority of his party. And if comes out before Election Day in support of court-packing, it could hurt his chances and those running down the ballot amongst swing and independent voters.
“There’s a number of alternatives that are — go well beyond packing,” Biden said. “The last thing we need to do is turn the Supreme Court into just a political football, whoever has the most votes gets whatever they want. Presidents come and go. Supreme Court justices stay for generations.”
For weeks, Biden has refused to give a solid position on the court-packing issue with his response differentiate from sidestepping the topic when questioned to refusing to lay out his stance on this issue in fear of giving Trump campaign talking points and declaring that he will let voters know his opinion on court-packing when the election is over. However, he has emphasized over the last week that he is “not a fan” of packing the court proposal.
During the ABC News Town Hall, Biden vowed to give a “clear position” on this issue, with his response will be determined how the Senate “handle” the floor process before Barrett is confirmed to the Supreme Court.
“I would then say, it depends on how this turns out, not how he wins, but how it’s handled, how it’s handled,” Biden told ABC’s moderator George Stephanopoulos. “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.”
Asked if that meant he would provide a clear position before Election Day, Biden responded, “Yes. Depending on how they handle this.”
Biden’s latest response is sought to ease the topic from dominating the headlines in the last week and a half before election day. However, the preview only made the issue gain more steam from both sides seizing on his remarks.
President Trump on Twitter after 60 Minutes shared the video said Biden “wants to Pack the Court with Radical Left crazies.”
Biden wants to Pack the Court with Radical Left crazies. He doesn’t even want to make a list to explain who they are. Can’t let this happen!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 22, 2020
Meanwhile, liberal groups are furious at Senate Judiciary Democrats for their handling of Barrett’s confirmation hearing and for what they believe in failing to show what is at stake in making any headway during those four days. They also express anger that the floor vote scheduled Monday will confirm Barrett just a week before Election Day, and give Trump his third Supreme Court Justice that will shift the court conservative by 6-3.
On Biden latest stance of court-packing, Demand Justice, a liberal activist group called the proposal a “punt” that runs the “risk of stalling momentum for serious reform” and it’s not a solution. Progressive Change Campaign Committee slammed the proposed panel as a “gambit,” saying there’s no way you can put conservative and progressive legal thinkers together and they will all agree in their efforts to “restore balance” to the high courts.
A New York Times-Siena College survey released this week found that 58% of all voters oppose adding justices to the Supreme Court if Barrett is confirmed, compared to only 31% who support such stances. From the 31% percent of support, 57% of those are Democrats, while from the 58% of those who oppose, 65% of them are independent voters.