Oct 15, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Biden on court packing: It "depends" how the Barrett confirmation is "handled"

Joe Biden said at an ABC town hall on Thursday night that he will come out with a clear position on court packing by Election Day, but that his answer on the issue will depend on how the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court is "handled."

The state of play: Biden said he has "not been a fan" of expanding the court because it would change the court's makeup depending on who the president is. But he signaled he would be "open to considering what happens" if Republicans push through Barrett's confirmation before the election without proper debate in the Senate.

Why it matters: Some congressional Democrats have suggested expanding the court if Senate Republicans confirm Trump's Supreme Court nominee during an election year — which they refused to do for former President Obama's nominee in 2016.

What he's saying: Asked by ABC's George Stephanopoulos whether he was open to expanding the court if the Senate votes on Barrett's confirmation before Election Day, Biden said: "I'm open to considering what happens from that point on."

  • Pressed on whether voters have a right to know where he stands on the issue, Biden said "they do have a right to know where I stand, and they'll have a right to know before they vote."
  • Biden added, "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."
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