In a particularly tense moment during the first presidential debate on Tuesday night, both Chris Wallace and President Donald Trump pressed Democratic nominee Joe Biden to answer whether or not he would pack the Supreme Court if he won the presidency and Democrats took the Senate next year. As Trump pressed Biden, the Democrat said, “Would you shut up, man?” and added, “This is so unpresidential.”
Wallace noted that Democrats, not President Donald Trump, brought up the issue of packing the Supreme Court.
“Are you willing to tell the American people tonight whether you will support ending the filibuster or packing the Court?” Wallace asked.
Biden began to circle around the issue, dodging the question. “Whatever position I take in that, that will become the issue. The issue is the American people should speak. You should go out and vote. You’re in voting now. Vote and let your senators know…”
“Are you going to pack the Court?” Trump pressed.
Biden repeated himself, “vote and let your senators know…”
“Are you going to pack the Court? He doesn’t want to answer the question,” the president added.
“I’m not going to answer that question,” Biden responded.
“Why aren’t you going to answer that question?” Trump pressed.
“Would you shut up, man?” the Democrat responded.
The president took a different tack. “Who is on your list, Joe?” he asked.
“This is so unpresidential,” Biden responded.
“Who is on your list, Joe?” Trump repeated.
President Donald Trump has released his list of potential Supreme Court justices before the 2016 election and before this election. Amy Coney Barrett, the current nominee, was on the president’s list. Joe Biden has refused to release a list, claiming that he would get advice from the Senate first.
Yet Biden’s refusal to respond on Court-packing is extremely worrisome. This refusal suggests that Biden plans to pack the Court, or at least that he considers it a viable option. This would fundamentally alter the game and set a dangerous precedent. If Democrats increase the number of justices on the Supreme Court in 2021, why wouldn’t Republicans do the same when they next win the White House and the Senate?
Responding with a simple “no” should be a no-brainer. Biden’s refusal to do so should worry Americans.
Joe won't answer whether he'd pack the court and end the filibuster. Candidates are candidates and they're supposed to, you know, take positions on things. Him ducking this shows how he is not "the Democratic Party"#Debates2020 pic.twitter.com/HK2TPokq2m
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) September 30, 2020
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Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.