Law & the Courts

Biden Won’t Answer Court-Packing Question

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden speaks to union carpenters during a campaign event in Hermantown, Minn., September 18, 2020. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
On an issue that could effectively create a revolution, the candidate is mum.

President Trump gets a lot of heat for his answers to questions. Much of the criticism is appropriate, some of it is mock outrage, but one way or the other, Trump does answer the questions.

In fact, he answers hundreds more questions than his opponent. COVID has been devastating for the country, but it’s been a boon for Joe Biden, who has undeniably lost a step or three and does not do well with sustained exposure. Since the former vice president is rarely made available for questioning, you’d think he would answer the questions that he faces on those few occasions. You’d also think that, when he declines to answer legitimate, important questions, that would be a big deal.

But he doesn’t answer key questions. And his media friends calculate that if they give you the inside scoop on the amazingly deft political strategy behind not answering questions, you’ll be so wowed you won’t notice that the answers are what matter.

There is no bigger issue in the 2020 campaign than whether, if they take the White House and the Senate, Democrats would eliminate the filibuster. Expanding and packing the Supreme Court would be a direct result of this, and a radical one. But it is only one of a plethora of radical steps that would follow — expanding and packing the lower federal courts, statehood for the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, single-payer healthcare, elements of the Green New Deal, a massive bailout for mismanaged blue states, breaking up and regulating into submission private businesses, hamstringing the nation’s police forces, gutting the Second Amendment, sweeping immigration amnesty, and so on.

Yet when asked Monday about whether he supported calls by many Democrats to repeal the filibuster and expand, then pack, the Supreme Court, Biden refused to answer the question.

Ever since Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away on Friday, Democrats have turned up the volume on packing the Supreme Court with progressive firebrands. But don’t kid yourself: Many Democrats were calling for this long before last week; there was saber-rattling about it during both the Gorsuch and (especially) the Kavanaugh confirmations. The fact that the president and Senate Republicans are fully within their constitutional authority to nominate and confirm a new justice has the Left unhinged, but this is not a new threat.

Unlike the aggressive progressives who will be ruling the roost if Biden is elected, the candidate is not talking.

Biden’s rationale for not answering the court-packing question was ludicrous. He acknowledged the question was legitimate (gee, thanks), but then babbled that he’d remain mum because President Trump “always tries to shift the focus” and “never wants to talk about the issue at hand. He always tries to change the subject.” Biden added that if he answered the question, then the “whole debate” — presumably, he meant his nationally-televised debate with Trump a week from today — is going to be about “what Biden said or didn’t say.”

Of course, this is not a matter of changing the subject. This is the subject.

Tellingly, the woman who asked the question did not allude to the president. The premise of the question was: Assume Trump has lost and Biden is now president; would he support adding seats to the Supreme Court? Obviously that would require eliminating the filibuster and enacting legislation, after which Biden and Senate Democrats would conveyor-belt confirm a slew of nominees.

Furthermore, note that Biden’s demurral was not a matter of his getting flustered or feebly deflecting a question because he forgot what he wanted to say. This was the implementation of a considered plan.

The Washington Post, which is as well wired into the Biden campaign as any media organ, reports that the campaign expressed “particular annoyance” at Democratic Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts for raising court packing. Markey had publicly stated that, if Republicans fill the current vacancy with a Trump nominee, then Democrats “must abolish the filibuster and expand the Supreme Court” if they retake the Senate. Biden and his minions were said to be fuming because they are trying to stress “less polarizing issues.” As one anonymous adviser put it, “People in your own party shouldn’t cause you problems 44 days out.”

In other words: If we tell the saps what we’re planning to do, they won’t let us do it.

This explains why, though Democrats talk nonstop about the list of potential Supreme Court nominees President Trump has, with justifiable pride, made public, Biden will not make any Democratic list public. He won’t even tell us whom he’d appoint to the seat Democrats are desperate to prevent Trump from filling.

This is not a matter of some Democratic fear that Biden is not up to the task of parrying tough questions. It is the intimate Democratic understanding that Biden’s answers to the tough questions would be deeply disturbing to voters. The answers, moreover, will demonstrate that Biden’s campaign labeling – Good Ol’ Joe, the moderate who can keep the socialist revolutionaries at bay — is false advertising.

Yes, if the former vice president answers the question about ending the filibuster and packing the High Court, Trump and the rest of us will surely be pointing out, non-stop, “what Biden said or didn’t say.” But that is because he is running for president. If he is elected, what he says, what he does, and whom he puts on the Supreme Court will affect, profoundly, the way we live and are governed. That’s a reason to make him tell us now, not let him play hide-the-radicalism and then spring it on us after Election Day.

Next Tuesday’s moderator, Fox News’s Chris Wallace, is extraordinarily good at getting responses, or otherwise making the true meaning behind a non-response palpable. I doubt he will take Joe Biden’s “I’m not going to answer” for an answer. Neither should anyone else.

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