- NATIONAL INTEREST - Oct 9, 2020 -
Rachel Bucchino -
Republicans will turn up the heat on Democrats over court-packing as the Amy Coney Barrett hearings begin next week.
Republicans continue to press Democratic nominee Joe Biden and running mate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) in recent days over whether the pair would “pack” the court if conservative-leaning Amy Coney Barrett gets a seat on the bench, a question that the two have avoided to answer. If the Democrats were to proceed with court-packing, it would represent a momentous step that would erode another guardrail of American democracy and turn the court into a rubber stamp for the president rather than a separate branch of government. The last time it was attempted was in 1936, when Franklin Roosevelt suffered a humiliating defeat in Congress after he tried to add new members to the Supreme Court. Would Biden and the Democrats seek to go down the same road?
Biden faced the court-packing question at a campaign stop in Phoenix on Thursday, providing yet another bland response. “You will know my opinion on court-packing when the election is over,” Biden told reporters at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. “The moment I answer that question, the headline in every one of your papers will be about that rather than focusing on what’s happening now. This election has begun. There’s never been a court appointment once the election has begun.”
Court-packing — a radical idea that broadens the highest court by adding more judges than what exists now — would tilt the Supreme Court to be more left-leaning if Biden is elected and Democrats rally enough federal level support to pass the law. Although the constitution doesn’t state how many justices must sit over the court, Republicans argue that there have been nine justices on the Supreme Court for well over a century, so swelling the bench would radically interfere with the highest court’s practice and history.
“I think the reason they won’t answer it is because their answer is yes,” Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas) told the Daily Caller on Thursday, “and they know that’s incredibly impossible so they’re trying to hide just how radical their agenda is.” “They are ready to pack the court. If they win, if they take a majority, if we have Biden, Schumer and Pelosi in charge, I believe they will pack the court,” Cruz added.