The Trump campaign on Sunday questioned who was “driving the bus” for the Biden ticket on the issue of Supreme Court “packing” – suggesting former Vice President Joe Biden’s running mate Sen. Kamala Harris is making the campaign’s call.
During a call on Sunday, Trump’s deputy campaign manager Justin Clark slammed the Democratic presidential nominee for continuing to dodge questions on whether he supports adding seats to the nine-member U.S. Supreme Court, where conservatives currently hold a majority.
“His unwillingness to answer this question is obviously an answer,” Clark said. “Joe Biden was previously opposed to packing the court. The late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was also opposed to court-packing.”
Clark added: “Who is in control here? Biden-Harris? Or Harris-Biden?”
Clark went on to point to comments made by Harris, D-Calif., during the primaries, in which she said she was “open to the idea” of court-packing.
“I’d just like to know who is driving the bus on court-packing,” Clark said, warning that Democrats want to “monkey around with a court that has been stable in size for over 150 years.”
“What else are they going to change the rules on to bow to the radical left-wing mob?” Clark said.
Clark’s comments come as Democrats have threatened to add justices if President Trump’s nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, who was tapped to fill the vacancy left by late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, is confirmed ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
The idea of “packing” the court with extra justices – attempted unsuccessfully by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1937 to force through parts of his New Deal that were ruled unconstitutional by the high court – has bubbled away on the fringes of the party for years.
On Friday, Biden was asked about his position and responded by saying that voters don’t deserve to know his stance on the issue.
On Friday, a KTNV reporter asked him again about whether he backs court-packing and said: “This is the number one thing that I’ve been asked about from viewers in the past couple of days.”
“You’ve been asked by the viewers who are probably Republicans who don’t want me continuing to talk about what they’re doing to the court right now,” Biden responded
“Well sir, don’t the voters deserve to know…?” reporter Ross DiMattei asked.
“No, they don’t.,” Biden replied. “I’m not gonna play his game, he’d love me to talk about, and I’ve already said something on court-packing. [Trump would] love that to be the discussion instead of what he’s doing now,”
“He’s about to make a pick in the middle of an election, first time it’s ever been done, first time in history it’s ever been done,” he said.
During last week’s vice presidential debate, Harris dodged the question when asked by Vice President Mike Pence, saying only that the “American people deserve to make the decision” of “who will serve for a lifetime.”
“Joe and I are very clear the American people are voting right now, and it should be their decision about who will serve on this most important body for a lifetime,” she said.
Democrats have objected to a Barrett confirmation so close to the election, citing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s refusal to consider President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland in 2016.
McConnell, though, has said that it is a different situation as the White House and the Senate are not held by opposing parties.
Republicans appear to have the votes to move forward and confirm Barrett. Republicans have 53 votes in the Senate and can therefore afford three defections if no Democrat votes for the nominee. In that instance, Pence would be called in to break a tie.
Barrett’s confirmation hearing is set to begin on Oct. 12 before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which Harris sits on, and run through Oct. 15.
At the vice-presidential debate, Pence pushed Harris on the issue, asking, “if you and Joe Biden are going to pack the Supreme Court?”
Harris finally responded, saying, “Let’s talk about packing the court then.”
“I have witnessed appointments for lifetime appointments to federal courts,” Harris said, referring to her time on the Judiciary Committee during the Trump administration. “People who are purely ideological, who have been reviewed and found to have been not competent, or substandard.”
She went on to say that “of the 50 people Trump appointed to the Court of Appeals – lifetime appointments – no one is Black.”
“Want to talk about packing a court?” Harris said. “Let’s have that discussion.”