Coons: Confirming Barrett 'Constitutes Court Packing'

October 11, 2020

As Joe Biden continues to dodge questions about whether he would expand the Supreme Court in office, his ally Sen. Chris Coons (D., Del.) said the Republican push to confirm nominee Amy Coney Barrett "constitutes court packing" in its own right.

"As I will lay out in my questioning this week, we shouldn't be having this hearing with two members of the [Senate Judiciary Committee] infected with COVID," Coons said on Fox News Sunday. "It's rushed, it constitutes court packing, and her views are too extreme to qualify her to serve on this court."

Court packing, however, refers to increasing the number of Supreme Court justices from its current slate of nine. President Donald Trump nominated Barrett to fill the ninth seat that opened after Ruth Bader Ginsburg died last month. Barrett's hearings begin on Monday, and if her confirmation is successful, she would be the first Trump Supreme Court nominee to replace a liberal-leaning justice.

Some Democrats in recent weeks have called to add justices to the Supreme Court as retaliation for Barrett's confirmation, but Biden has refused to answer whether he supports court packing, calling it a distraction. Last year, he said court packing would destroy the Supreme Court's credibility, and in 1983 he called it a "bonehead idea." On Friday, he said voters did not deserve to know where he stood on the issue before the election.

"I'm not going to play his game," Biden said. "[Trump would] love that to be the discussion instead of what he's doing now."

To expand the Supreme Court, Democrats would need to repeal the Judiciary Act of 1869, which set its current size.