Oct 22, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Biden says he will appoint commission on Supreme Court reform

Joe Biden
Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden told CBS' "60 Minutes" this week that, if elected, he would put together a bipartisan commission to study the federal court system and make recommendations for reform.

Why it matters: Biden has come under pressure to clarify his position on court packing after some Democrats suggested expanding the court if Senate Republicans confirm President Trump's Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.

What he's saying: "If elected, what I will do is I'll put together a national commission of  — bipartisan commission of scholars, constitutional scholars, Democrats, Republicans, liberal, conservative," Biden told "60 Minutes" in an interview conducted on Monday.

  • "I will ask them to over 180 days come back to me with recommendations as to how to reform the court system because it's getting out of whack — the way in which it's being handled and it's not about court packing."
  • "There's a number of other things that our constitutional scholars have debated and I've looked to see what recommendations that commission might make." 
  • "There's a number of alternatives that are — go well beyond packing. ... The last thing we need to do is turn the Supreme Court into just a political football, whoever has the most votes gets whatever they want. Presidents come and go. Supreme Court justices stay for generations."  

Between the lines: Biden had previously opposed court packing during the Democratic primaries, but Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death and Barrett's nomination re-energized support for the idea among progressives.

  • Last week, he said during a town hall that he would come out with a clear position on court packing by Election Day, but that his answer on the issue will depend on how Barrett's confirmation is "handled."
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