Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden says that voters “do have a right to know where I stand” on expanding the number of justices on the Supreme Court and that he will most likely let them know “before they vote” on Nov. 3.
His comments mark a reversal from just a week ago, when Biden told reporters that “you’ll know my position on court-packing the day after the election.”
Biden on Thursday explained that his position will depend on how the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett is handled by the Republican majority in the Senate. The former vice president’s pledge, however, comes as millions of ballots have already been cast in the general election.
The former vice president once again described the question – which he has avoded directly answering for nearly a month – as a distraction to what he termed the main issue – the push by President Trump and Senate Republican to quickly move before Election Day to confirm Barrett, a conservative federal appeals court judge nominated by Trump to succeed liberal-leaning Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Biden and Democrats have repeatedly argued that voters should have a say in the nomination, by choosing the next president and by determining which party controls the Senate. Biden has urged that the winner of the presidential election should nominate the successor to Ginsburg.
But with Democrats virtually powerless to stop the president and Senate Republicans from pushing through Barrett’s nomination ahead of the election — which would tilt the court’s conservative majority to 6-3 — many on the left are now calling for an expansion of the court to rebalance the ideological ratio of the justices.
“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 told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, the moderator of the town hall.
The former vice president reiterated his position from the Democratic presidential primaries that “I have not been a fan of court packing.”
Senate Republicans are pushing to vote on Barrett’s nomination before Election Day. Biden said that his position on expanding the number of justices would depend “on how they (Senate Republicans) handle this.