Joe Biden

Has Joe Biden's Position On Court Packing Changed?

Biden's refusal to address court packing in the first presidential debate reflects his lack of concrete positions.

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During the first half-hour of Tuesday's presidential debate, moderator and Fox News host Chris Wallace asked a simple question to former vice president Joe Biden: "Are you willing to tell the American tonight whether or not you will support…packing the court?"

Prominent Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D–N.Y.), have suggested that adding new seats—and new progressive Supreme Court Justices—would be an appropriate response if Republicans manage to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. This comes after Republicans, in a similar situation at the end of President Barack Obama's second term, refused to confirm Democratic nominee Merrick Garland.

In the past, Biden has dismissed the idea of packing the court if Democrats control the White House and the Senate. In July 2019, Biden said that he was "not prepared to go on and try to pack the court." In October, he said that he "would not get into court-packing," and in his January interview with The New York Times, he claimed that he would have no proposed judicial reforms.

On Tuesday night, however, Biden neatly dodged the issue.

"Whatever position I take on that, that'll become the issue," he said. Trump followed up by asking the question directly to Biden, twice. "Are you going to pack the court?" Biden refused to answer.

Does Biden actually oppose packing the court? Last night, despite the general mayhem, was a chance to plant a flag on the issue. That's important considering that members of Biden's party—Sen. Ed Markey (D–Mass.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D–N.Y.), most notably—want to pack the court if Barrett is confirmed. During the Democratic primary, several other candidates were open to the idea as well, including Sen. Kamala Harris (D–Calif.), who is now Biden's running-mate.

Biden is often described as a centrist, but he's more accurately described as a reflection of the center of the Democratic Party, whatever that may be at a given moment. The man behind the 1994 Crime Bill is now the head of the party most supportive of racial justice; the man who voted for the bill that created our deportation immigration system is the candidate for immigration reform. He is, to quote Reason's Matt Welch, a "rusty political weather vane."

Does that mean Biden's views on court-packing are now changing as well? His answer on Tuesday night was not substantial enough to tell, but it certainly seems like the Democratic wind is blowing that direction.

NEXT: Trump and Biden Debate Climate Change, the Green New Deal, and the Paris Accord

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  1. “Whatever position I take on that, that’ll become the issue”

    That kinda comes with the territory when YOU ARE RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT.

    “Does Biden actually oppose packing the court? Last night, despite the general mayhem, was a chance to plant a flag on the issue. That’s important considering that members of Biden’s party—Sen. Ed Markey (D–Mass.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D–N.Y.), most notably—want to pack the court if Barrett is confirmed.”

    Biden, per Biden, IS the Democrat Party. Ergo, he supports these idiotic proposals unless he claims otherwise. He doesn’t claim otherwise because he does support them.

    1. that’ll become the issue

      Yeah, duh, that is what a political position is. Joe is going to sit the fence on anything he can get away with.

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    2. That was hilarious: “I don’t want my positions on issues to become the issue. Have I told you how bad the Orange Man is yet?”

      1. What are Donald Trump’s core policy beliefs?

        1. Not very many. But I thought Biden was selling himself as an antidote to that. Instead, he acted like refusing to take a position on a serious policy matter was high principle.

        2. No new wars
          Equitable trade deals

          Just because you like war and being a door mat doesn’t make them suddenly not policies.

        3. Get conservative judges

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    3. “Whatever position I take on that, that’ll become the issue”

      That’s the point. Say your intents on this important issue, so the American people can factor it into their decision.

      What a weasel.

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  2. If we could return to the ideal that the Supreme Court is a co-equal branch, we could internalize the concept of removing judges, then we wouldn’t need to be entertaining packing the court.

    1. 6 of one, half a dozen of the other. When judges get removed for political expediency at the whim of Democrats it makes no fucking difference whether there’s 9, 20, or 5,000 judges on the court.

  3. FYI, Kamala Harris is for whatever the winds tell her to be ‘for’ at the time she declares herself ‘for’ something.

    1. Speaking of Kamala, where has she even been for the last couple of weeks?

      1. I hear she broke some news about 2PAC.

  4. “This comes after Republicans, in a similar situation at the end of President Barack Obama’s second term, refused to confirm Democratic nominee Merrick Garland.”

    “Similar” is doing a lot of work there. Second term President without control of the Senate is “similar” to first term President with control of the Senate.

    Elections have consequences. The Democrats spent the first 2 years of Obama’s first term loudly crowing about how they didn’t need a single Republican vote to do whatever the fuck they wanted. Americans responded by sending more Republicans to the Senate to do exactly what they ended up doing.

    1. Yep, blocking Merrick Garland was definitely a political move, and actually a pretty risky one. Because just about everyone assumed Hillary Clinton was going to win, and many pollsters believed she would bring in a Democrat Senate majority on her coattails.

      Then Obama could have pulled Garland’s nomination, and in January Hillary and the Democrats could have put Larry Tribe on the Supreme Court (yes, I know Tribe’s too old, so they would have put in somebody younger, like Tribe’s protege Barack Obama)

      1. Obama wouldn’t have needed to explicitly pulled the nomination. Even if Hillary had won in 2016, the nomination of Garland would have been automatically void after the inauguration and Hillary took office.

        In fact, had that happened at the end of Obama’s first term, he would have had to re nominate Garland after the start of his second term.

        1. If Hillary had won, senate would have confirmed him quickly.

    2. The name of McConnell´s game is Calvinball.

  5. At this stage in his waning career, Biden is a lot like a piece of tofu. He is white, soft, and can be made to taste like absolutely fucking anything.

    1. And like tofu there is always something more appealing available.

    2. Leave your sexual fantasies out of here, please.

      1. Jesus fucking Christ leftists trying to comedy is embarrassing.

  6. Biden doesn’t have to commit to anything because he’s not finishing a term. He’ll be shuffled out by Cameltoe Harris and she will fudge pack the court without batting an eye.

    1. The Democrats would also have to win the Senate for this to be possible.

  7. Joe Biden’s position on court packing hasn’t changed. He just doesn’t remember what that position is.

    1. LOL! Probably true though.

  8. Has Joe Biden’s Position On Court Packing Changed?

    No, it’s just the same as it’s always been, he’s not going to take a firm position on it. You don’t last in Washington for half a century by taking firm positions. You may recall that one of, if not the, singular achievement of Joe Biden’s career was getting a draconian crime bill passed, yet his position on his own crime bill was ambiguous enough that he is now able to portray himself as the champion of the very people he sought to have locked up.

    1. /insert creepy Kamala Harris giggle here

    2. Mrs Biden is very unhappy, because Joe hasn’t had a firm “position” in decades.

    3. Like Killary, he has “evolved,” which is a handy way of deflecting questions you don’t like; or like Kamala you can say “we need to have a conversation on that” and then never have it.

  9. Biden has long opposed any proposal to alter the balance of the Supreme Court. During the primary, when other Democratic candidates pushed reforms that focused on the Supreme Court, Biden suggested it was a flawed argument that would just worsen issues in Washington.
    And when he was asked about adding seats to the court in the wake of Ginsburg’s death, he said, “It’s a legitimate question but let me tell you why I’m not going answer. Because it will shift the focus.”
    He continued, “That’s what (Trump) wants, he never wants to talk about the issue at hand and he always tries to change the subject.”
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    1. When the bots make more sense than Sqrlsy.

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  10. “Biden’s refusal to address court packing in the first presidential debate reflects his lack of concrete positions”.

    This is close to being self-contradictory.

    Since when does refusing to do something mean you don’t have a concrete position?

    1. Some people may want to believe that Biden wouldn’t support packing the Supreme Court, but he won’t give them any evidence. Because we want to believe things doesn’t make them true.

    2. So you’re saying he has made up his mind but he just won’t tell the voters?

  11. Seems obvious Biden would pack the court, by refusing to answer the question.
    Biden is telling us we’ll have to elect him to find out what we get, like Pelosi and Obamacare. They didn’t deliver what they promised then (did you get to keep your plan?), and we know what socialism delivers.
    Trump set a new precedent in announcing his SCOTUS list before the election, so voters know what they’re getting. Seems like a libertarian sales move against the elitism we were getting.

  12. Has Joe Biden’s Position On Court Packing Changed?

    Joe wouldn’t answer that for two reasons:

    1. Any answer he could give would offend some of his potential voters. Saying ‘no’ would enrage the lefties, and saying ‘yes’ might drive some of his centrist supporters to vote for Trump.

    2. Joe can’t answer because he doesn’t actually HAVE a position on packing right now. Seriously — he’ll do whatever seems most politically expedient when and if the time comes. But of course he can’t say that even though it’s the plain truth.

  13. Both Biden and Harris are stick your finger in the wind to see what their opinions are going to be at the moment. While I despise Trump and don’t think he is suitable to be president, I despise Biden even more.

    If you assume that Biden wins the election, I can’t even hope that when Biden eventually fails that the VP would do a good job. Harris is from the same corrupt mold as Biden.

    Democrats have been petulant children for decades, but since Trump was elected they have been on a continual temper tantrum. They have hissy-fits over the most inane frivolous minutiae in an attempt to hamper a duly elected president.

    The majority of the media is not the non-partisan voice of reason reporting fairly, but rather have become participants in Democrat party political spin. The vast majority of the major media has failed to uphold their own mission statements to provide un-biased coverage.

    The Democrats are now threatening packing the courts because they don’t have the power to stop the appointment of Amy Coney Barrett to SCOTUS.

    Never mind that it was the Democrats who changed the rules that allowed this to occur in the first place. Never mind that Democrats would do exactly the same if they had the power.

    With luck Jo Jorgensen will be the next president. If she wins, I fully expect the majority of the media to launch a full scale assault that will make their assault on Trump look relatively tame.

    I expect that the Democrats will continue to be poor losers. I also expect that Republicans and Democrats will join forces in their campaign to assault Libertarians.

    Regardless, it will be interesting. It however will also be sad that more than likely the election will simply be another vacillation between two failed parties.

    1. Great post, but have to say it will take a lot more than “luck” for any third party candidate to win any major, never mind presidential, election.

      Trump is certainly an ass, in every sense of the word. And while I have voted libertarian for years, my aversion to Democrats and fear of what a majority of them would do to this country is enough to make me hold my nose and pull the lever for him.

  14. Because Biden is like tofu like a previous poster said he is often on the wrong side of history. He doesn’t take well thought out position. This is evident in his foreign policy positions like the one on Iraq where he said it should be broken up into three countries. I can just see the result. Day 1 Kurdistan becomes a country, day 2 Turkey invades Kurdistan. Turkey would never allow an independent Kurdistan on its border.

    So, Biden can only agree with his party, he will never be a driver of well thought out policy.

  15. “On Tuesday night, however, Biden neatly dodged the issue.”

    Biden dodged virtually every question (i.e. issue) Chris Wallace asked (and instead attacked Trump with false accusations).

    Instead of doing his job as moderator, the obviously pro-Biden Chris Wallace never challenged Biden’s repeated failures to answer Wallace’s simple and critically important questions (and never challenged Biden’s dozens/hundreds of false claims about Trump), which left that responsibility to Trump.

    But of course, Wallace repeatedly interrupted Trump when he was answering the questions asked by Wallace, and when Trump was correcting the many false claims by Biden.

    Not only did Trump easily win the debate against Biden, but Trump did a much better job as moderator than Wallace.

    Since obviously pro Biden Wallace failed to challenge Biden

    1. How the fuck was he supposed to answer any questions? Even Chris Wallace could barely get a FOX News talking point in edgewise.

      1. You are pathetic. Biden had many opportunities to answer that question and he refused.

  16. I believe that Biden is a centrist Democrat and most of the information we have suggest that the centrist are in control of the Party (*). I therefore believe that a President Biden would resist court packing. I think he would be forced to change if SCOTUS suddenly started making ruling that were outside current main stream thought. I would also guess the Justices, especially John Roberts, know this and will be reluctant to issue sweeping ruling and instead focus on nibbling at issues.

    * – the two groups who believe that leftist have taken over the Democratic party are leftist Democrats and Republicans.

    1. “…ruling that were outside current main stream thought.”

      There is this thing, a document, call the US Constitution. Soldiers and public officials [such as federal judges] take an oath to uphold and defend it. You should read it sometime.

      1. The Constitution is a lot like the Bible in that people read it the way they want to read it. There are nine justices on SCOTUS and they get to say what the Constitution means. If it was clear they would also ways rule 9 to 0. The fact that they often have divide rulings and that even within the majority and minority rulings there may be disagreement tells me that the Constitution leave a lot of room for interpretation.

        1. There certainly are differences, specially between an originalist like Gorsuch and a legislator with a lifetime appointment, like Ginsberg.

          Seems pretty clear you align with one philosophy [“living” constitution] and I with another [original intent]. My fundamental rights are not up for debate according to “current mainstream thought,” whatever that may be.

          1. Just remember that “current mainstream thought” may not be about your fundamental rights as much as it is about others fundamental rights. In originalist terms fundamental rights were limited to white men. Blacks and women needed amendments to get their rights. But those amendments were passed and they may ask that their rights be respected as much as yours.

  17. Biden’s refusal to address court packing should be viewed as an affirmative that he and the Democrats will do that at first opportunity. If they can swing court packing, statehood for Washington DC and Puerto Rico, and amnesty for illegals combined with open borders, and every other long desired agenda items… this will be a one party country. What could possibly go wrong?

    1. It will never be a one-party country. Each party overreaches just enough to ensure they’re booted. Immigrants from Central America want to work and do work hard, and even start businesses. They may start out Democrats but soon enough they’ll become Republicans.

      1. You make a very good point here. It was not that long ago when conservatives saw a future in immigrants. Immigrants are typically hardworking, family oriented, and seemed likely to fit the conservative mode. Then populists in the Republican party gain dominance and the old white man became the model. I suspect that we will start see a start to realignment after the November 2020 election.

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