Hmm: Did Biden Flip-Flop on Court-Packing?

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Posted: Oct 16, 2020 12:45 PM
Hmm: Did Biden Flip-Flop on Court-Packing?

Source: Screenshot via ABC News

During last night's ABC News "town hall" forum, former Vice President Joe Biden again faced questions about the radical court-packing scheme being floated by some members of his party -- and explicitly ruled out by very few. For decades, Biden has opposed the idea in no uncertain terms, but recently, he's been hedging. He's been dodging the issue, falsely claiming that the real issue should be the "not constitutional" "court-packing" that Republicans are engaged in right now. Before we go any further, it's important to note that what the GOP is currently doing is (a) unambiguously constitutional, (b) not court-packing, and (c) the historical norm. As recently as last week, Biden's stance was that voters would learn his stance after the election is over and that they don't deserve to know sooner. It seems as though he's run out of real estate with that untenable and unacceptable response, so instead, we got this new jumble:

Republicans are citing this answer as proof positive that Biden intends to add seats to the Court. I'm not so sure. Biden has flip-flopped on whether voters are entitled to an answer on this issue prior to November 3, but his explanation remains murky and confusing. Either way, it looks like he's bought himself a few more weeks with a new temporary reply that will last through the end of the month when Judge Barrett's confirmation is expected. My guess is that once the updated placeholder answer expires, Biden will give a new, parsed answer that expressed openness -- but not a commitment -- to some vague Supreme Court "reform," then leave it at that. I discussed this issue on Fox News this morning:

As I said, voters shouldn't have to guess which "side" he's going to let down by pursuing or rejecting this radical idea. He doesn't want to demoralize his hardcore base in crunch time, but he's explicitly running as a "return to normal" moderate. Blowing up the Senate in order to eviscerate the legitimacy of the Supreme Court by packing it with new seats is more or less the opposite of a middle-of-the-road "back to normalcy" approach. My gut tells me that Biden doesn't want to pack the Court, and probably won't (quote from last night: "I have not been a fan of court-packing because then it generates what will happen, whoever wins, it just keeps moving in a way that is inconsistent with what is going to be manageable"). However, if his party wins a blowout victory and they have a sufficient number of Senate seats, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi may have the votes to at least attempt this extreme power-grab.

If they move forward, I'm not convinced Biden would have the juice to stop them. He could conceivably refuse to fill the hypothetical newly-authorized seats, but I'm skeptical. The best way to guarantee that a potential President Biden's position on court-packing ends up being irrelevant is to keep Republicans in control of the Senate. And because the polling and dynamics of the election cycle have seemed very gloomy for Republicans lately, I'll leave you with this ray of hope for the party's chances. Interesting stuff: