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OPINION

Court-Packing Controversy Reveals How Terrified Biden Is of His Left-Wing Base

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden doesn’t want to pack the Supreme Court. He really doesn’t. In fact, he’s said so for the past 40 years. 

“President [Franklin D.] Roosevelt clearly had the right to send to the United States Senate and the United States Congress a proposal to pack the court [in 1937],” then-Senator Biden said during a Judiciary Committee hearing in 1983.  “It was totally within his right to do that. He violated no law. He was legalistically, absolutely correct. But it was a bonehead idea. It was a terrible, terrible mistake to make.” 

Biden believed Roosevelt’s attempt to add justices to the Court who would vote to uphold his New Deal legislation “put in question, if for an entire decade, the independence of the most-significant body...in this country, the Supreme Court of the United States of America.”

This belief prompted Biden to reiterate his deep-seated opposition to court packing in 2005 and praise Democratic senators who blocked what Biden called Roosevelt’s “power grab.”

“Remember this old adage about power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” Biden said.  “[Roosevelt], corrupted by power in my view, unveiled his court-packing plan.  He wanted to increase the number of justices to 15, allowing himself to nominate those additional judges. It took an act of courage on the part of his own party institutionally to stand up against this power grab.” 

As recently as last July, Biden expressed his disdain for court-packing, telling the Iowa Starting Line that he “is not prepared to go on and try to pack the court, because we’ll live to rue that day.”  Three months later, he said in a Democratic primary debate that he “would not get into court-packing.”  

Almost exactly one year later, though, Biden is steadfastly refusing to answer the same question he has spent four decades answering; even going so far as to tell a local news reporter in Las Vegas that voters “don’t deserve” to know his stance on the issue before Election Day.

The controversy over his repeated refusal to say what he has said for almost his entire life in politics belies an uncomfortable truth about Biden’s candidacy: He is so beholden to and terrified of alienating the radical left-wing of his party that he can no longer articulate what he clearly believes to be both constitutionally and morally wrong.

The radical base of voters he needs to appease harbor no such sentimentality about the independence of the judiciary; they are so furious that the Senate is on the verge of confirming President Trump’s third Supreme Court nominee that they are all but demanding that Democrats abandon the Separation of Powers doctrine and seize the Court as a spoil of victory if they win next month’s election.

A full 60 percent of Democrats told a Washington Examiner/YouGov poll last week that their party should indeed expand the Court, and Biden’s own running mate —the far more radical Kamala Harris—said the same in an interview with the New York Times last year.

“Are you open to expanding the size of the Supreme Court?” a reporter asked her.

“I am open to that discussion,” Harris flatly answered.

Biden, meanwhile, is terrified of it because he knows that any definitive answer he gives will either spook moderates who sort of like the independence of the judiciary or cause a mutiny among leftists who demand the immediate seizure of absolute power. 

Biden (and most Democrats) may have once thought that it absolutely corrupted President Roosevelt, but that view can no longer be publicly expressed. Biden’s comical dithering, then, isn’t merely standard election-year obfuscation; it’s a veiled cry for help from a candidate held hostage by a radicalized Democratic Party that is now hellbent on seizing the very sort of absolute power that it had once feared (or at least pretended to). 

Biden is merely the kindly, grandfatherly puppet who doesn’t dare tug on his strings, and his court-packing controversy proves it.  He appears to know how unconstitutional, unethical, and dangerous to a free republic such a power grab would be, but he doesn’t dare say it, because if he does his party will dump him just as quickly as they’ll dump the Separation of Powers doctrine and even the Constitution itself.   

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