By MOLLY NAGLE, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — As the Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett continue, former Vice President Joe Biden says he is “not a fan” of court packing, following weeks of refusing to answer questions about whether he would try to add more justices to the high court if he wins.
“I’ve already spoken on — I’m not a fan of court packing,” Biden told Cincinnati Affiliate WKRC Monday evening.
The comments — while they don’t answer whether Biden would try to add justices to the Supreme Court — mark the closest Biden has gotten since the primary to sharing his views on the issue, which has come into intense focus following President Donald Trump’s quick nomination of Barrett to the Supreme Court following the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg in late September.
Biden, who finds himself caught between progressives who are pushing for adding justices to circumvent a conservative majority on the Supreme Court and the majority of Americans who in a recent poll were found to be against court packing, has said he wouldn’t answer the question until after the election.
Instead, Biden argues that the focus should remain on Trump and Senate Republicans taking the unprecedented step to confirm a Supreme Court Nominee with just over 20 days until the election.
“Never before, when an election has already begun and millions of votes are already cast has it ever been that a Supreme Court nominee was put forward. Had never happened before,” Biden told the station.
“I don’t want to get off on that whole issue. I want to keep focused. The president would love nothing better than to fight about whether or not I would in fact pack the court or not pack the court, etcetera. The focus is why is he doing what he’s doing now? Why now, with less than 24 days to go in the election?” Biden added.
Biden’s remark does not close the door on the possibility of adding seats to the court, a move that could be undertaken legislatively if Democrats win back the Senate in November.
However, the former vice president’s admission that he does not like the idea of expanding the court is largely in line with his previous stance on the issue while serving in the Senate.
“President Roosevelt clearly had the right to send to the United States Senate and the United States Congress a proposal to pack the court. It was totally within his right to do that. He violated no law. He was legalistically, absolutely correct,” Biden, said during a Judiciary Committee hearing in 1983.
“But it was a bonehead idea. It was a terrible, terrible mistake to make. And it put in question, if for an entire decade, the independence of the most-significant body … in this country, the Supreme Court of the United States of America.”
Throughout the 2020 Democratic Primary, Biden also expressed his opposition to court packing.
“No, I’m not prepared to go on and try to pack the court, because we’ll live to rue that day,” Biden told the Iowa Starting Line in July of 2019.
“I would not get into court packing. We had three justices. Next time around, we lose control, they add three justices. We begin to lose any credibility the court has at all,” Biden also said during the Democratic primary debate in October last year.
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