Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden completely misrepresented the definition of court packing on Monday.
Instead of answering whether he has intentions to orchestrate the addition of more justices to the Supreme Court, Biden instead accused President Donald Trump of packing the court by carrying out his presidential duty to nominate Judge Amy Coney Barrett as a replacement for Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court.
“You made it clear you don’t want to talk about packing the court until Election Day. But what about for undecided voters who want to know your position on possibly expanding the court before they cast their ballot?” the reporter asked.
“Look- before they cast- what I want them to focus on is, I respectfully suggest, is what, packing, court packing is going on now,” Biden said.
Biden criticized the quick nomination and confirmation process carried out by Senate Republicans and attempted to spin his inability to provide an answer to the question back on Trump
“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, et cetera,” Biden said. “The focus is why is he doing what he is doing now. Why now with less than 24 days to go in the election? And the hearings are gonna take place and they’re only gonna be about ten days or whatever it is before the vote takes place. That’s the court packing the public should be focused on.”
Despite Biden’s rhetorical spin, the term court packing does not refer to the president’s or the Senate’s constitutional duty to appoint and confirm justices to fill existing vacancies in the judiciary. It refers to the act of adding additional justices, beyond the existing nine. An example of true court packing is President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s attempt to pass the the Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937, which would have allowed him to appoint a new justice for every current justice older than 70, up to six justices.
While Biden actively evades answering directly whether he has any intentions to add more justices any time he is asked, the media refuses to hold him accountable and have instead run with his false accusations that Republicans are packing the Court by simply moving forward with Barrett’s confirmation process to fill an existing empty seat.
CNN’s Don Lemon defended Biden’s refusal to answer, completely ignoring the fact that multiple reporters have no asked Biden the question to no avail.
“It’s not a legitimate question in that during the debate, the vice president raised the question, the moderator didn’t raise the question. This is a hypothetical,” Lemon said. “Joe Biden has said twice, at least on tape that I’ve seen, how he feels about court-packing. And I feel it’s a distraction from the Republicans and the president.”
The Washington Post ran a story Friday alleging that Republicans were “stealing” the Supreme Court by nominating and holding confirmation hearings for now-Justice Neil Gorsuch and Barrett.
“If Democrats, in response, are entertaining the radical idea of expanding the size of the court, it’s hard to blame them; Republicans have stocked the court with one and soon two justices whose seats they were not entitled to fill. This is slow-motion court-packing in plain sight,” it continued.
Joy Reid, host of MSNBC’s “The Reid Out,” made similar complaints on Twitter, claiming that Barrett’s confirmation hearings are a prime example of “Republicans literally engaged in a court-packing scheme that’s on live TV RIGHT NOW.”
Republicans are literally engaged in a court-packing scheme that’s on live TV RIGHT NOW in these hearings. Has anyone asked Mitch McConnell if he will pledge to stop that? What Americans are worried about is the court canceling their healthcare and their civil & voting rights.
— Joy-Ann 😷Reid (@JoyAnnReid) October 12, 2020
Former CBS anchor and veteran reporter Dan Rather took the term “court packing” directly out of context and misconstrued its definition to fit his frustration about Republicans’ refusal to confirm Merrick Garland nominated by former President Barack Obama in 2016.
Can we at least recognize that “Court Packing” at all levels of the judiciary has been the Republican playbook for decades? Asking for Merrick Garland.
— Dan Rather (@DanRather) October 11, 2020
Multiple U.S. Senators also adopted this misleading language this week, pushing the narrative that Republicans were hypocritical for following through on Barrett’s nomination and confirmation.
“It’s a common question being asked because the American people have watched the Republicans packing the court over the last three and a half years. And they brag about it. They’ve taken every vacancy and filled it,” Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois said on NBC News.
“I’m really concerned about the court-packing with the ideologically driven nominees now sitting on the court, some 200 of them, that Trump has been putting on the court, aided and abetted, of course, by Mitch McConnell,” Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii said in an interview with CNN.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer took it one step further by claiming that packing the courts, as in adding additional seats to the bench, would be within the Democrats’ “constitutional right.”