Biden has faced growing questions from the news media about his position, and Republicans have criticized his refusal to take a public stance. His remarks went well beyond what he has said in recent weeks, showing his strong skepticism on a proposal that has divided the Democratic Party, even if not shutting the door entirely on the prospect of pursuing it as president.
Biden added that President Trump “would love nothing better than to fight about whether or not I would in fact pack the court or not pack the court.” He criticized Trump for trying to get Judge Amy Coney Barrett confirmed to the high court so close to an election.
“That’s the court-packing the public should be focused on,” Biden said.
Biden has been a vocal critic of Republican efforts to fill the seat of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, urging them to wait and allow the winner of the election to decide the nominee. But he has been less clear about how he would respond if Barrett is confirmed and Democrats win back the White House and the Senate.
Some on the left have argued that the appropriate reaction is moving to add justices to the Supreme Court to shift it to the left. During the Democratic primary, Biden came out against doing that.
“I think it’s a bad idea,” he said in August 2019 during a trip to Iowa. “It will come back to bite us. It should not be a political football.”
Since Ginsburg died, however, Biden has not provided a definitive view. His advisers and allies have calculated that it would be a bigger risk to answer the question than it is to dodge it. Coming down on either side of the debate would mean angering many people who disagree.
“You will know my opinion on court-packing when the election is over,” Biden told reporters in Phoenix last week.
Biden faced a question the following day about whether voters deserved to know where he stood. A reporter told him it was the top issue viewers had asked about in the past couple of days.
“Well, you’ve been asked by the viewers who are probably Republicans who don’t want me continuing to talk about what they are doing to the court right now,” Biden responded in an interview with KTNV in Las Vegas.
“No, they don’t des—” Biden said before cutting himself off. “I’m not going to play his game,” he added, in a reference to Trump.
Trump has seized on Biden repeatedly sidestepping questions on this topic, aiming to make it a campaign issue.
“Biden evades ‘Court Packing’ question. @FoxNews Because his puppet masters are willing to destroy the U.S. Supreme Court. Don’t let this, and so many other really bad things, happen. VOTE!” tweeted the president on Sunday.
He did not provide evidence for his claim.
Biden also faced a question in the WKRC-TV interview about why Americans who feel better off economically under Trump than they did under the Obama administration should vote for the Democratic ticket.
“Well, if they think that, they probably shouldn’t,” said Biden. He added: “Their memory is not very good, quite frankly. And in addition to that, we have a president who doesn’t share the values of most Americans.”
Amy B Wang and Matt Viser contributed to this report.