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Politics Biden and Harris Need an Answer on Court-Packing

16:05  08 october  2020
16:05  08 october  2020 Source:   theatlantic.com

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Biden and Harris Should Just Be Honest About Court - Packing . High-minded justifications based on the issue of legitimacy are less compelling than the truth. Joe Biden keeps dodging when asked whether he supports enlarging the Supreme Court in order to pack it with liberal justices.

“Are you and Joe Biden going to pack the court if Judge Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed?” Pence asked Harris directly. During the debate, Trump asked Biden directly whether he would pack the court , to which he responded: "I'm not going to answer the question."

Supreme Court confirmation battles have become all-out political wars, and last night’s vice-presidential debate offered a hint of the next stage in the escalation. Mike Pence and Kamala Harris were sparring over Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination when Pence turned to Harris, and posed a challenge.

a close up of a fence in front of a building © Getty / The Atlantic

“Are you and Joe Biden going to pack the Court?” he asked her. In recent weeks, as Democrats have faced the possibility that an Antonin Scalia protégée will replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the bench, progressives have pushed a proposal to add new justices to the Court, arguing that this is the only way to safeguard decisions on voting rights, abortion access, and same-sex marriage. “This is a classic case of, if you can’t win by the rules, you’re going to change the rules,” Pence continued. He turned directly to the camera. “The American people would really like to know.”

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Mike Pence called out Kamala Harris on packing the Supreme Court . Pence put Kamala on the spot — AND Kamala REFUSED to answer the question!

At one point, as Biden tried to evade a question from moderator Chris Wallace as to whether he would support adding more slots to the Supreme Court and eliminating the Senate filibuster rule if “Are you going to pack the court ,” Trump interjected, before chirping: “He doesn’t want to answer that question.”

Harris refused to answer the question directly. Instead, she took a historical detour to 1864, explaining why Abraham Lincoln didn’t appoint a Supreme Court justice shortly before he was up for reelection. “The American people are voting right now, and it should be their decision about who will serve on this most important body for a lifetime,” she said.

[Read: The true victors of Trump’s Supreme Court nomination]

Maybe the Biden team thinks court-packing is a distraction from the fight over Barrett—the communications director, Kate Bedingfield, has said as much. Maybe the question is still unresolved within the campaign. Maybe Harris didn’t want to answer a question from Pence; throughout the evening, both candidates dodged direct queries from the moderator, too. Whatever the reason, if Democrats win big in November, court-packing will be an urgent and live question that Biden and Harris will have to take on within their coalition. Evasion isn’t a good enough answer.

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Kamala Harris on whether she and Joe Biden would pack the Supreme court Wednesday, but Mike Pence accuses Kamala Harris of planning to ' pack Supreme Court ' if Amy Coney Barrett is She didn't answer but accused Trump of pushing 50 lifetime appeals court appointments with no black

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With less than four weeks to go before the election, Americans are more tuned in to the future of the Supreme Court than at any time in recent memory. Nearly six in 10 voters say the Court will be “very important” to their choices in November, and the issue now ranks among voters’ top concerns, according to a Morning Consult poll taken shortly after Ginsburg’s death.

[Read: The Democrats’ Supreme Court Hail Mary]

The Trump administration is relying on a Supreme Court victory to help them with voters. Across the board, polling suggests Trump is trailing Biden, including in several swing states where Republican-held Senate seats are on the ballot. While a majority of voters have said they believe the winner of the presidential election should pick the next Supreme Court justice—the Biden-Harris position—Trump’s allies are betting they can mobilize their base by pushing forward with Barrett. They had also hoped her confirmation would give them a way to redirect the political conversation away from COVID-19, although the recent coronavirus outbreak at the White House following the announcement of her nomination makes that much more difficult. If nothing else, her confirmation would secure a 6-3 conservative majority on the Court if Republicans lose badly next month.

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Pence and Harris both avoided answering question after question fully, with Page not intervening to press for answers on issues including whether Kamala Harris Wednesday about whether Joe Biden will seek to pack the Supreme Court if elected – then got accused of packing the federal judiciary

Tucker: Team Biden releases its plan for America. Doug Collins responds to Dem threats to pack the Supreme Court .

Republicans are also betting that court-packing is a bad look for Democrats. The last major push for court-packing happened under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who openly wished for justices who wouldn’t challenge his sweeping New Deal legislation. “If you cherish the Supreme Court and the separation of powers, you need to reject the Biden-Harris ticket come November 3rd, and we’ll keep the nine-seat Supreme Court,” Pence said.

[Ideas: The reckless race to confirm Amy Coney Barrett justifies court-packing]

Pence’s tactic here is familiar: tying the historically moderate Biden to the desires of the Democratic Party’s progressive wing. But the Biden campaign may not be able to easily wave it away. When Harris was vying for the Democratic presidential nomination, she said she was open to adding more justices to the Court; so did multiple other candidates competing in the primary. While in the past, Biden dismissed court-packing, he also declined to answer whether he wants to expand it during the last debate. The Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, has said that court-packing will be “on the table” if Barrett is confirmed, and other members of Congress have rallied behind the proposal. The pressure to take a position, not just from Republicans, but also fellow Democrats, may only grow.

With Congress at a perpetual standstill, the Supreme Court has become the default venue where some of the most high-stakes American political questions get adjudicated. Republicans have shown that they are willing to do whatever it takes to maintain a conservative majority on the Court, from holding open Scalia’s seat for nine months before the election in 2016, to attempting to confirm Barrett just a few days before the election in 2020. If Democrats want to take the radical step of court-packing in pursuit of their revenge, a drawn-out, bloody battle surely lies ahead. 2020 is a referendum on the chaos of the last four years. But it’s possible that the election won’t end the chaos—it will just bring a new era. Right now, it’s the president’s move on the Court, but Biden and Harris have to be ready for their turn.

Read the full transcript of Joe Biden's ABC News town hall .
Read the full transcript of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden's ABC News town hall, Thursday at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. © Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images Democratic Presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden and moderator George Stephanopoulos participate in an ABC News town hall event at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Oct. 15, 2020. Please note: This is a rush transcript that may not be in its final form, and may be updated.

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