Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris on Wednesday night refused to say whether she and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden would pack the Supreme Court in the event that they win the presidency and Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed to the high court.
The California Senator deflected a question by Vice President Mike Pence during the first and only vice presidential debate regarding whether the Democratic duo would seek to add additional seats to the Court in retaliation for Republicans’ push to confirm President Trump’s nominee so close to the November 3 election.
Pence noted that there had been 29 vacancies on the Supreme Court during presidential election years dating back to the presidency of George Washington, and that each time the sitting president had nominated a replacement.
“But your party is actually openly advocating adding seats to the Supreme Court which has had nine seats for 150 years if you don’t get you way,” he said. “This is a classic case of if you can’t win by the rules, you’re going to change the rules.”
Instead of saying whether or not they planned to pack the court, Harris rerouted the conversation and began saying that Abraham Lincoln had not appointed a Supreme Court justice when a vacancy opened on the Court 27 days before Election Day because filling the opening was “not the right thing to do.”
Pence pressed again, “You once again gave a non-answer. Joe Biden gave a non-answer. The American people deserve a straight answer and if you haven’t figured it out yet, the straight answer is they are going to pack the Supreme Court if they somehow win this election.”
Harris responded, again forgoing the question: “Do you know that of the 50 people who President Trump appointed to the Court of Appeals for lifetime appointments, not one is black? This is what they’ve been doing. You want to talk about packing a court? Let’s have that discussion.”
Biden has been similarly elusive on responding to questions around Democrats’ calls to add seats to the nine-seat Court.
During the first presidential debate last week the former vice president had refused to answer the question when posed by President Trump and moderator Chris Wallace.
After Biden successfully avoided a question on the topic from Wallace, Trump continually repeated, “Are you going to pack the court?” Until Biden ultimately said, “I’m not going to answer that question.”
When Trump continued Biden snapped, “Will you shut up, man?”