Biden’s Sudden Reticence on Court Packing Is Alarming
Judging from their grandstanding during Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearing, Democrats think the composition of the Supreme Court is a big issue in next month’s presidential election. Yet evidently it is not big enough for their candidate to tell voters whether he favors expanding the Court to accommodate his policy preferences.
“You’ll know my opinion of court packing when the election’s over,” Joe Biden told reporters last week. His unwillingness to discuss the issue should alarm anyone who values judicial independence as a bulwark against the abuse of power, regardless of which party happens to be wielding it.
Biden himself explained the threat posed by court packing as a senator in 1983. “It was a bonehead idea,” he said, referring to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1937 plan to make the Supreme Court more receptive to his New Deal agenda through legislation that would have authorized him to appoint up to six additional justices.
That plan “violated no law,” Biden noted. Still, “it was a terrible, terrible mistake to make, and it put in question for an entire decade the independence of…the Supreme Court.”
Last year, Biden was still opposed to FDR-style bullying. “I’m not prepared to go on and try to pack the Court, because we’ll live to rue the day,” he told Iowa Starting Line in July 2019.
Biden was equally firm during a Democratic presidential debate three months later. “I would not get into court packing,” he said. “We begin to lose any credibility the Court has at all.” As recently as January, Biden told The New Yo
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