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Biden Says He's 'Not A Fan' Of Expanding The Supreme Court

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, seen here at a campaign event in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Monday, told a local TV station he is "not a fan" of court packing.
Jim Watson
/
AFP via Getty Images
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, seen here at a campaign event in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Monday, told a local TV station he is "not a fan" of court packing.

After weeks of deflecting on whether he would seek to increase the number of justices on the Supreme Court if elected president, Democratic nominee Joe Biden on Monday went the furthest he's gone on the issue as of late, saying he's "not a fan."

"I've already spoken: I'm not a fan of court packing, but I don't want to get off on that whole issue. I want to keep focused," the former vice president told WKRC-TV after a campaign event in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Biden, who polls show is leading the presidential race with just three weeks to go, largely pitched an economic message in Ohio.

"The president would love nothing better than to fight about whether or not I would in fact pack the court or not pack the court," he added.

The issue of whether Biden would consider increasing the number of justices gained traction after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Republicans' subsequent plans to quickly move ahead with the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett.

In the past, Biden has been upfront about his disdain for expanding the court. During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in 1983, he denounced President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's attempts to do so decades prior. And he again expressed opposition to the idea on the campaign trail in 2019.

"I would not get into court packing," Biden during a Democratic primary debate. "We add three justices. Next time around, we lose control, they add three justices. We begin to lose any credibility the court has at all."

But in the final stretch of the general election campaign, Biden has repeatedly said that taking a strong stance on the issue now plays into the hands of President Trump.

Instead, his campaign has tried to shift the focus to criticizing the Trump administration and Senate Republicans for their efforts to confirm Barrett so close to the election, despite Republicans having denied a hearing to Merrick Garland, then-President Barack Obama's court nominee, months before the 2016 election.

"That's the court packing the public should be focused on," Biden said in his interview in Cincinnati.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Barbara Sprunt is a producer on NPR's Washington desk, where she reports and produces breaking news and feature political content. She formerly produced the NPR Politics Podcast and got her start in radio at as an intern on NPR's Weekend All Things Considered and Tell Me More with Michel Martin. She is an alumnus of the Paul Miller Reporting Fellowship at the National Press Foundation. She is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., and a Pennsylvania native.

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