Biden says he’s open to adding Supreme Court justices if needed

'It depends on how this turns out,' Biden told George Stephanopolous. 'Not on who wins, but how it's handled.'

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Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has been repeatedly asked if he plans to “pack” the Supreme Court since the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the rushed nomination of Amy Coney Barrett. 

In an interview after a campaign event on Monday, Biden said that he is “not a fan” of the idea of packing the court. He also said that he doesn’t want that one issue to dominate the conversation around his bid for the presidency.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden addresses supporters during a drive-in voter mobilization event Tuesday at Miramar Regional Park in Miramar, Florida. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

“I want to keep focused,” he said. 

During his Thursday town hall event held on ABC and moderated by George Stephanopolous, the former vice president repeated that he is “not a fan.” He did, however, leave the possibility open. 

“It depends on how this turns out,” Biden said, “Not on who wins, but how it’s handled.” 

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When pressed to elaborate, Biden made it clear that his opinion on the matter “depends on how much they rush this.” 

Stephanopolous asked, “Don’t voters have a right to know?” 

“They do have a right to know where I stand,” Biden replied, “and they have a right to know before they vote.”

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He said that he will answer the question definitively before Election Day “depending on how they handle this,” again referring to the confirmation of Barrett. 

Biden further explained, “You know if I’d answer directly, all the focus would be on ‘What is Biden going to do if he wins’ instead of on ‘Is it appropriate what’s going on now,’” he said. “This is what the president loves to do: Always take our eye off the ball on what is at stake.”

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The phrase “court packing” has become a new clarion call for undecided voters. Specifically, the term means to add judges to a court, in this case, the Supreme Court of the United States. Adding justices is within the scope of the executive powers of the president. 

The first U.S. president, George Washington, nominated six Supreme Court justices. The number was increased by Congress to nine in 1869. 

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