It’s no longer a question of “whether” Joe Biden would pack the Supreme Court with new justices; it’s a question of “how many” new justices he would add.
Biden has been asked many times whether he would support a “court packing” scheme suggested by other prominent Democrats in response to Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination. Incredibly, he has consistently refused to answer the question, even when it was posed to him in front of a national audience during the first presidential debate.
We’re not talking about the usual kind of evasiveness we’ve come to expect from politicians. Biden isn’t “dodging” the issue or changing the subject — he’s explicitly saying that he will not answer a question that voters rate as one of the most important issues in the 2020 election.
Biden’s brazenness is, frankly, astonishing. He started by saying that he would not answer the question because he didn’t want his position to become “the issue” in this campaign. His reticence is perfectly understandable, given that he’s bound to alienate a large portion of the electorate no matter what position he takes. But as a candidate for the highest office in the land, Biden simply doesn’t have the luxury of ignoring a question that is bound to come up if he wins the election.
Even the press corps is becoming frustrated with Biden’s persistent stonewalling.
“Don’t the voters deserve to know where you stand?” an incredulous reporter recently asked the Democrat nominee. Astonishingly, Biden replied, “No, they don’t.”
Actually, the American people do deserve to know what a man who wishes to serve as our president would do to our Supreme Court.
At this point, it seems safe to say that Biden would, in fact, sign a bill to expand the Supreme Court if one were sent to him by a Democrat-controlled Congress. If he didn’t support the idea, it would be fairly easy for him to manage liberal disappointment by making the case that even President Franklin Roosevelt couldn’t manage to pull off his own court packing scheme when his political power was arguably at its zenith. Considering how many wavering and undecided voters would be immensely relieved to hear Biden disavow court packing, it stands to reason that he would have already done so if he genuinely opposed the idea.
His continued refusal to address the issue still leaves us in the dark on one key matter: How many justices would Biden seek to add?
If the objective were merely to “restore” the ideological balance that existed prior to the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — for simplicity’s sake, we can call it a one-vote conservative majority — then Democrats would need to give Biden the ability to appoint two new liberal justices, resulting in a 6-5 split.
It’s difficult to imagine Biden and the Democrats undertaking such a grave political risk merely to wind up with a smaller minority, though. More likely, court packing would involve adding at least four new justices to the Supreme Court, allowing the left to seize an outright majority of 7-6 or greater. In fact, it’s easy to imagine a scenario in which the Democrats, energized by their anger over Donald Trump’s three Supreme Court nominations and emboldened by a recent election victory, might go so far as to add six new justices, giving them an unassailable 9-6 advantage.
Joe Biden doesn’t think voters “deserve” to know whether he supports packing the Supreme Court, but it’s abundantly clear that he does. The only thing that remains a mystery is how far he would be willing to go.
So what will it be, Joe? Two new justices? Four? Six?
Jan Brewer is the former Governor of Arizona