A wavering stance by the Democratic nominee has left voters with questions


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As this election comes to an end many voters still have questions on the stance of Joe Biden on packing the Supreme Court. He has been asked over and over and each time he either switches his answer or just avoids the question.

Sam McGrath, Business Manager

Is it acceptable for a politician to dodge a question regarding the structural change to an American institution? Former Vice President Joe Biden’s unsure and inconsistent stance on packing the Supreme Court has left voters confused.

Biden has not always been inconsistent on the idea of packing the court. In the summer of 2019, Joe Biden stated he was not prepared to pack the Supreme Court. However, many things have changed, such as the sudden death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. This prompted Trump and Senate Republicans to fill the empty seat, and the concept of court-packing gained significant ground on the left.

Leading up to the first presidential debate, the Biden campaign successfully dodged questions regarding packing the Supreme Court. The media did not push it when they asked questions. Although when a campaign calls for a lid nine times in a single month, not far away from the election, it can be tough to get in questions.

During the first presidential debate and the vice presidential debate, there were repeated questions pointed at both Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris regarding packing the Supreme court. Biden and Harris avoided these questions and the American public was not closer to getting a real answer.

During the Democratic town hall held on Oct. 15, Biden gave another answer essentially saying depending on the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett he is open to the idea of adding justices to the Supreme Court. He also said, again depending on Barrett’s confirmation, he will give his stance before election day. What does that mean? Barrett certainly has at least 51 votes, which is enough to get confirmed, so why have the American people not received an answer on his stance?

Later, Biden said in an interview voters do not deserve to know his stance, but he then said they do. On Oct. 7 Harris said Biden has been consistent in the fact he does not want to talk about the topic of packing the Supreme Court. Most recently, on Oct. 22 Biden said he would aim to create a national commission to reform the court system.

The fact the American people have not gotten a consistent answer on whether or not Biden will pack the Supreme Court begs the question: does the campaign think voters deserve to know its stance on court-packing?

To analyze this question, it is important to know the strategy taking place. It is no secret the court-packing discussion drives a wedge between progressives and moderate Democrats as well as independent voters. Therefore, Biden is avoiding discussing his position on the topic. Senior Ben Curran believes Biden’s strategy is smart, as it keeps him from dividing his party, but it does not make the situation any less frustrating. “[W]e want answers, and we shouldn’t have to ‘wait and see’ for an important plan,” Curran argued.

Furthermore, Democratic congressional leaders saying things like “we are willing to use every arrow in our quiver” and “nothing is off the table” if they gain control over the White House and Congress, does not help.

Curran, as well as AP United States Government and Politics teacher Joe Youngbauer, mentioned how this is not the first time politicians have avoided answering questions on the campaign trail. “It is unfortunate and potentially harmful for the American voter to not completely know a candidate’s stance prior to election day but this isn’t the first time and won’t be the last that politicians dodge fully answering important political questions on the campaign trail,” Youngbauer described. While this may be true, a candidate dodging questions on changing a valued American institution can be very destructive to American politics.

Why does this matter though? Federalist No. 78 says the Judicial Branch is by far the weakest branch. Although this is true, packing the Supreme Court in the context that many Democrats are suggesting is the same thing as politicizing it. This would not only break down one of the original institutions of America, it would also delegitimize it.

The last time this was attempted was by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1937 with a Democratic controlled congress. However, when Roosevelt attempted to expand the court from nine justices to 15, his own party said no. They recognized it would eliminate the independence of the judiciary branch.

The original purpose of the Supreme Court is to analyze the Constitution and to verify the actions done by the legislative and executive branches of the government. Adding justices because of current court ideologies takes away from that original purpose of bipartisanly analyzing the Constitution.

Justices are not supposed to add in their own opinions when analyzing the Constitution. According to Youngbauer, justices should interpret the Constitution without their own bias. “The idea and purpose is to not have a politicized Supreme Court who rules and interprets the U.S. Constitution based on their judgements and previous court precedents,” Youngbauer stated.

The American public deserves answers because this is a big deal. A presidential nominee hiding his agenda on a crucial American institution is dangerous to our democracy. This cannot be compared to other politicians dodging questions because this is a highly controversial topic.

Packing the Supreme Court will eliminate important partisan opposition, destroy the balance previously established and corrupt America’s highest judicial institution. It is crucial that voters have an answer before they cast their ballot.