Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on Thursday gave his most definitive non-answer yet on whether he would, as president of the United States, sign a law expanding the number of justices on the Supreme Court should Congress confirm President Donald Trump’s nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett.
Under pressure in the town hall setting, Biden said he would be open to packing the court, depending on how the Barrett confirmation is handled in the Senate.
During an ABC News town hall, host George Stephanopoulos asked Biden about his position on packing the court, noting that one year ago at a Democratic primary debate, Biden said he was opposed to the idea now being advocated by some Democrats.
“I have not been a fan of court-packing because … whoever wins, it just keeps moving in a way that is inconsistent with what is going to be manageable,” Biden said.
“So, you’re still not a fan?” Stephanopoulos asked.
“Well, I’m not a fan. It depends on how this turns out, not how [Trump] wins, but how it’s handled,” Biden said, referring to the confirmation vote for Barrett.
“What does that mean, how it’s handled?” Stephanopoulos pressed.
“Well, for example, if there’s actually real live debate on the floor, if people are really going to be able to have a time to go through this — you know, I don’t know anybody who’s gone on the floor and just, that’s been a controversial justice, in terms of fundamentally altering the makeup of the court, that’s gone through in a day kind of thing. I mean, it depends on how much they rush this,” Biden answered.
Joe Biden pressed on his reluctance to give firm answer on expanding the court l ABC News Town Hall
“So, if they vote on it before the election, you are open to expanding the court?” Stephanopoulos asked Biden.
“I am open to considering what happens from that point on,” Biden said.
Stephanopoulos attempted to get a more specific answer from Biden, who deflected.
“No matter what answer I gave you, if I say it, that’s the headline tomorrow. It won’t be about what’s going on now, the improper way they’re proceeding,” Biden said.
“But don’t voters have a right to know where you stand?” Stephanopoulos followed up.
“They do have a right to know where I stand, and they’ll have a right to know where I stand before they vote,” Biden admitted.
“So you’ll come out with a clear position before Election Day?” Stephanopoulos asked.
“Yes, depending on how they handle this,” Biden concluded.