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Harris Refuses to Answer Question on Court Packing

By | Been Written

Contributing Writer | Telegraph Local

Kamala Harris repeatedly dodged questions Wednesday on whether she and Joe Biden support adding more seats to the high court.

CBS News reports that ‘during the sole vice presidential debate, Vice President Mike Pence pressed Harris numerous times to clarify whether she and her running mate would move to expand the number of Supreme Court seats from nine if they win the election in November and if Judge Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed to fill the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat.

“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 your way,” Pence said.

What Does Packing the Court Mean?

The term known “court packing” aims to dilute the power of the conservative justices and restore balance to the high court.

President Franklin Roosevelt issued a proposal in February 1937 to provide retirement at full pay for all members of the court over 70. If a justice refused to retire, an “assistant” with full voting rights was to be appointed, thus ensuring Roosevelt a liberal majority. Most Republicans and many Democrats in Congress opposed the so-called “court-packing” plan.

The plan never became law.

How Did Harris Respond?

Harris responded by referencing the 1864 presidential election, in which Justice Roger Taney’s death created a Supreme Court vacancy for President Abraham Lincoln just 27 days before the presidential election.

“Honest Abe said it’s not the right thing to do,” Harris said in reference to Lincoln waiting to name Taney’s successor.

“The American people deserve to make the decision about who will be the next president of the United States, and then that person can select who will serve for a lifetime on the highest court of our land.”

The senator did manage to turn Pence’s “pack the court” attack around by noting that Trump’s slate of federal court appointees has been overwhelmingly white. And she underscored Democrats’ argument and public polling that suggests most voters think the Senate should wait until after the election to fill the current Supreme Court vacancy, according to 10TV

Harris did not mention to Pence and the audience that the court’s Republican lean comes because the GOP-led Senate in 2016 refused to consider President Barack Obama’s nominee in the spring of 2016, carrying over a vacancy that Trump filled in 2017.

Democrats have threatened to pack the Supreme Court 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, says Fox News.

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