by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Think the idea of packing the U.S. Supreme Court with more justices makes sense? Joe Biden disagrees. Or at least the congressional Joe Biden of 35 years ago disagreed. Brent Scher of the Washington Free Beacon explains.
Former vice president Joe Biden slammed the “bonehead idea” of packing the Supreme Court during a 1983 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, saying the last attempt put into question the independence of the Court for a decade.
The remark didn’t come during a hearing for a judge, but rather during debate over whether to allow President Ronald Reagan to replace members of the Commission on Civil Rights. Biden opposed the nominated commissioners not because he viewed them as unqualified, but because he thought Reagan’s takeover of the commission would damage its legitimacy.
He compared it to Roosevelt’s court-packing push, which he called a “terrible, terrible mistake.”
“President Roosevelt clearly had the right to send to the United States Senate and the United States Congress a proposal to pack the Court,” Biden said during the hearing. “It was totally within his right to do that—he violated no law, he was legalistically absolutely correct.”
“But it was a bonehead idea. It was a terrible, terrible mistake to make, and it put in question, for an entire decade, the independence of the most significant body—including the Congress in my view—the most significant body in this country, the Supreme Court of the United States of America.”
Democratic candidates for president have begun to entertain the idea of packing the Court this week, with candidates such as Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Kamala Harris (Calif.) both openly considering the controversial proposal to counteract the judges put on the Court by President Donald Trump.