To Pack or Not to Pack, That Is the Question
That may be the question, but Joe Biden won’t be giving us the answer. Instead, he’s going to create a commission to “study” the issue of court packing, and other supposed judicial “reforms,” and get back to us.
Creating a commission is one of the oldest dodges in DC, so I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that Mr. Biden would recur to it — he having been in this town since the War in Vietnam. But it’s still just a dodge.
Here’s how the Politico article reports it:
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said that if elected he will convene a bipartisan commission of constitutional scholars to examine judicial reforms, asserting there are “a number of alternatives” that go “well beyond” expanding the Supreme Court….
Since [Justice Ruth Bader] Ginsburg’s death, Biden’s response to queries about whether he supported packing the court has evolved from ignoring such questions to declaring he would explain his stance on the issue after the election and denying that voters have a right to know his thoughts before casting their ballots. He has since clarified that he is “not a fan” of court packing.
Biden said that the commission would look into reforms “well beyond” adding seats to the Supreme Court:
Biden asserted in the interview, a clip of which was released Thursday morning ahead of his final debate with President Donald Trump, that his proposed commission is “not about court packing.” Pressed by O’Donnell whether the commission would study packing the court by adding more seats, Biden contended that it would not look solely at that issue.
“There’s a number of alternatives that are — go well beyond packing,” the former vice president said, though he conceded that liberals’ demands to pack the court are a “live ball.”
Some senators appeared not to be taken in:
Republicans were quick to balk at Biden’s suggestion, with Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) calling his comments “gibberish” and proclaiming his proposal “makes zero sense to me constitutionally,” while painting Biden as subservient to the whims of the left.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), in an interview on Fox Business, claimed Biden’s “objective is to go quote well beyond packing,” calling his answer “really chilling.”
I don’t know that Biden’s answers are gibberish, but they fall well short of telling us in plain language whether he is, or is not, going to attempt to add seats to the Court or to the courts of appeals (as Carter did) or both. The issue of court packing has been around at least since FDR, and someone who’s been in public life as long as Biden (including a long stint as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee) should know his own views by now.
I suspect what’s going on is that Biden favors court packing, at a minimum to placate the growing radical element in his party, but doesn’t want to say so before the election, because he’s read the polls finding that packing is not popular with the public.
So much for candor.