Former Vice President Joe Biden said he won't rule out studying the addition of members to the U.S. Supreme Court as part of a commission he plans to appoint to look at court reforms if he's elected.
In an excerpt of his interview with CBS's “60 Minutes" recorded Monday but not yet aired, Biden was asked by anchor Norah O’Donnell if the commission would study whether to pack the court. Biden said the commission’s charge would “go well beyond packing.”
"There's a number of alternatives that are — go well beyond packing," Biden said. "The last thing we need to do is turn the Supreme Court into just a political football, whoever has the most votes gets whatever they want. Presidents come and go. Supreme Court justices stay for generations."
The Democratic nominee for president said the U.S. court system is "getting out of whack" and he would give a bipartisan commission of constitutional scholars, both Republican and Democrats, liberal and conservative, 180 days to debate the issues and make recommendations for reforms.
Biden said last week he was “not a fan” of the idea of adding justices to the court to balance it ideologically. He said he would answer the question of whether he planned to support it before the final presidential debate, scheduled for Thursday in Nashville, Tennessee.
Questions of whether Biden would support court-packing have emerged since Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death on Sept. 18 and the Republican-controlled Senate’s move forward with Judiciary Committee hearings on President Donald Trump’s nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, before the Nov. 3 election.
Republicans on the panel powered past a Democratic boycott Thursday to advance Barrett's nomination to the full Senate, keeping the 48-year-old federal judge on track for confirmation before Election Day.
Barrett’s confirmation could cement a 6-3 conservative majority on the court for years to come. The shift from Ginsburg to the conservative appeals court judge from Indiana would be the most pronounced ideological change on the court in 30 years.
Barrett is the most open opponent of abortion nominated to the Supreme Court in decades — Republicans called her a “pro-life” judge during her confirmation hearings — and she could tilt the balance on that issue and many others.
In a separate interview taped at the White House on Tuesday, President Donald Trump abruptly ended his one-on-one with Lesley Stahl and threatened to release a behind-the-scenes recording before the shows Sunday airtime.