Biden tiptoes on ‘court packing’ to avoid eroding lead in polls #SootinClaimon.Com

#SootinClaimon.Com : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation.

Biden tiptoes on ‘court packing’ to avoid eroding lead in polls

InternationalOct 15. 2020Joe Biden, 2020 Democratic presidential nominee, speaks during the first U.S. presidential debate in Cleveland on Sept. 29, 2020. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Matthew Hatcher.Joe Biden, 2020 Democratic presidential nominee, speaks during the first U.S. presidential debate in Cleveland on Sept. 29, 2020. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Matthew Hatcher. 

By Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg · Jennifer Epstein · NATIONAL, POLITICS

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden spent weeks refusing to answer whether he would give in to liberals and agree to expand the number of seats on the Supreme Court, but when he finally responded, he left himself plenty of wiggle room.

The answer — “I’m not a fan of court packing” — was open enough to give comfort to independents and Republicans who oppose the idea, without angering progressives he needs to turn out to vote in some of the tighter battleground-state contests.

The Republican-led Senate is holding hearings this week over strong Democratic objections to confirm President Donald Trump’s nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before the election. Barrett’s confirmation would give the court a 6-3 conservative majority for decades to come and has given new voice to demands to expand the court.

But Biden and his running mate, Kamala Harris, have steadfastly refused to state their position on the issue, calling it a “distraction” from their opposition to the timing of nominating Barrett so close to the election and to Barrett herself.

And with Biden leading in national polls but facing tighter races in some key swing states, he is trying to hold on to his lead without making waves for the 20 days remaining.

After weeks of dodging the question, his answer Monday night came in a television interview in Ohio, a key battleground where he and Trump are essentially tied.

“I’ve already spoken on — I’m not a fan of court packing, but I don’t want to get off on that whole issue,” Biden said in an interview with WKRC-TV in Cincinnati. “I want to keep the focus — the president would like nothing better than to fight about whether or not I would in fact pack the court or not pack the court.”

Nothing in the U.S. Constitution requires that the Supreme Court have nine seats. It’s just been that way since 1869 — it started out at six and has been as high as 10.

The idea of again expanding it from nine grew in popularity after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declined to consider President Barack Obama’s 2016 Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland with 10 months to go before Obama’s second term ended. And the calls from the left to do so grew loudly when Trump nominated Barrett with early voting under way in many states.

Biden has argued against increasing the court’s size — known as “court packing” — by saying that Republicans would do the same thing the next time they were in power. And “before long it looks like the Senate in ‘Star Wars,’ you’ve got hundreds of people on it,” as Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah said at Barrett’s hearing on Tuesday.

In 2020, however, Biden and his allies have changed the definition of court packing from adding seats to rushing to fill them, accusing Republicans of packing the courts with the speedy Barrett confirmation process, the stalled Garland nomination and McConnell’s blockade of lower-court Obama nominees that left Trump with a record number of vacancies to fill.

“The court packing is going on now,” Biden said in the Monday interview with WKRC. “Never before, when the election has already begun and millions of votes already cast, has it ever been that a Supreme Court nominee was put forward, has never happened before.”

But because many voters don’t rank the size of the Supreme Court as a top issue, the Biden campaign and Democrats in Congress have made the strategic decision to focus on what Barrett’s appointment could mean to the Affordable Care Act, as well as what they say is the poor timing of the appointment.

“The politics of the issue are changing really fast,” said Aaron Belkin, director of Take Back the Court. “Think about how the practical politics could change if the Supreme Court strikes down the ACA or puts a Biden White House in handcuffs on day one.”

Biden’s refusal to answer the question of what he would do as president about the Supreme Court has gotten attention from Republicans, including Trump, who put out a new ad on Tuesday warning that Democrats want to fill the court with “liberal judges.”

And there’s another reason Biden is avoiding being pinned down — his position could change, depending on the election results. As far back as the early 1980s and as recently as last year, Biden opposed expanding the court, once calling it a “bonehead idea.”

“No, I’m not prepared to go on and try to pack the court, because we’ll live to rue that day,” Biden said last year in an interview with Iowa Starting Line.

But Biden has also given hope to those who want to expand the court. At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in 1983, Biden called Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s plan to expand the court a “terrible, terrible mistake to make” because it led to doubts about the court’s independence.” But Biden also said Roosevelt was “totally within his right to do that. He violated no law. He was legalistically, absolutely correct.”

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