White House Avoids Position on Court Packing as Congressional Democrats Push for SCOTUS Expansion

White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a press briefing at the White House, Monday, March 15, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

White House press secretary Jen Psaki avoided questions on whether President Joe Biden supported legislation congressional Democrats introduced Thursday to increase membership on the Supreme Court to thirteen.

“He certainly understands that members of Congress have a range of views and they’re going to propose legislation. He may or may not support it,” she said.

Psaki spoke with reporters about the bill during the White House press briefing on Thursday afternoon but avoided directly answering questions about whether the president supported or opposed the idea.

“The president believes in freedom of speech and that members can come forward and share their points of views on a range of issues including the future of the courts,” she said.

Psaki said Biden would wait to weigh in on the idea of expanding the number of Supreme Court justices until after his established commission releases their recommendations.

She also said the president did not believe the bill Sen. Ed Markey (D- MA) and House Judiciary Committee Chair Rep. Jerry Nadler introduced was premature.

“The president believes that it’s important to take a look at a range of points of view whether they are progressive or conservative, different sets of legal opinions, and he looks forward to assessing that himself,” she said.

When a reporter asked Psaki whether Biden still believed court-packing was a “bonehead idea” as he said in 1983, she said the president realized the idea deserved study.
“The president feels that it’s important to look at a range of issues related to the courts … he’s seen the impact in recent years and its time to take a fresh and clear look at a range of issues,” she said.

Biden famously opposed court-packing in July 2019, noting that “we’ll live to rue that day” if Democrats moved to pack the court. In October 2020, Biden said he was “not a fan of court-packing.”

But on October 22, Biden said he supported a commission to study the federal court system for being “out of whack.”

“There’s a number of alternatives that go well beyond packing,” he said.


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