Transcript for Joe Biden pressed on his reluctance to give firm answer on expanding the court
The questioner, Nathan of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Democrat. Hi, George. Mr. Vice president. Hey, Nathan. Our nation’s first supreme court gave their thoughts here. Merrick Garland didn’t get a hearing of all 2016 and Amy coney Barrett is being pushed through at the last minute, though millions have already voted. So, what do you think about ideas from people like Pete buttigieg and others to put in place safeguards that will help ensure more long-term balance and stability and what do you say to lgbtq and others who are very worried right now about erosions of their rights and our democracy as a whole? Well, let me start with the last point, work my way back. I think there’s great reason to be concerned. I was on the road most of the time during these hearings, so, I didn’t hear many of them, I just got the recaps when I get back, you know, I’d get in late at night from — I’ve been going around the country, Florida and — anyway. And — but my reading online what the judge said was she didn’t answer very many questions at all. And I don’t even think she’s laid out much of a judicial philosophy in terms of the basis in which she thinks, so, number one. So, I think there’s great reason to be concerned for the lgbtq, something I fought very hard for for a long time to make sure there’s equality across the board. Number two, I think that, also, health care overall is very much in jeopardy, as a consequence of the president’s going to go directly after this election, directly to the supreme court within a month, to try to get Obamacare wiped out after we’ve already, 10 million people have already lost their insurance from their employer and wants to take 20 million people out of the system, as well, plus 100 million people with pre-existing conditions. So, there’s a lot at stake. I don’t think it’s appropriate — I think the constitution implies, there’s no provision in the constitution. My problem is, I made a mistake in teaching constitutional law for 21 years and the separation of powers. The constitution implies that the way the people have a right to determine who is going to be on the court is how they vote for their senators and their president. Seek the advice and consent of the senate — The president’s the president for all four years, isn’t he? He is. But once an election begins, by implication, it is inconsistent with the constitutional principles, in my view. You get disagreement amongst scholars on this, but I believe it’s inconsistent when millions have already voted to put someone on the court. I think it should have been held until the next — this election is over, see what the makeup of the senate is going to be, if the president won, wins this election, he should be able — How about that question of expanding the court. Here is what you said one year ago don’t at a democratic debate. You said, I would not get into court packing, I would not pack the court. That’s not what you’re saying now. Is the nomination of judge Barrett reason enough to rethink your position? The nomination — what I wanted to do, George, you know, if I had answered the question directly, then all the focus would be on what’s Biden going to do if he wins, instead of on, is it appropriate what is going on now? And it should stay — this is the thing that the president loves to do. Always take our eye off the ball, what’s at stake. One of the things Pete has suggested is, and constitutional scholars have suggested, as well, that there are four, five options that are available to determine whether or not you can change the way in which the court lifetime appointment takes place, consistent, arguably, with the constitution. I have not been a fan of court packing, because it just generate what will happen, whoever wins, it just keeps moving in a way that is inconsistent with what is going to be manageable. So, you are still not a fan. Well, I’m not a fan. It depends on how this turns out. Not how he wins, but how it’s handled. How it’s handled. But there’s a number of things coming up, a lot of discussion about other alternatives, as well. What does that mean, how it’s handled? Well, for example, if there’s actually real life debate on the floor, if people are really going to be able to have a time to go through this, you know, I don’t know anybody who has gone on the floor and just, you know, that’s been a controversial justice, in terms of making fundamentally altering the makeup in a court that’s gone through in a day. It depends on how much they rush this. And you think about it, George, here, you got a lot of people not being able to pay their mortgage, not being able to keep their businesses open, not being able to do anything to deal with what’s going on in terms of the economy as a consequence of covid and they have no time to deal with that but they have time to rush this through. Well, right now, looks like they’re going to have a vote around Halloween. If they vote on it — That’s an appropriate day. If they vote before the election, you are open to expanding the court? I’m open to considering what happens from that point on. You know, you said so many times during the campaign, all through the course of your career, it’s important to level with the American people. It is, George, but if I say — no matter what answer I gave you, if I say it, that’s the headline tomorrow. It won’t be about what’s going on now, the improper way they’re proceeding. But don’t voters have a right to know? They do and they’ll have a right to know where I stand before they vote. So, you’ll come out with a clear position before election day? Yes. Depends on how they handle this. But look, what you should do is, you got to make sure you vote and vote for a senator who, in fact, thinks, reflects your general view on constitutional interpretation. And vote for a president. And if you oppose the president — position — if I had not appointed her, if you oppose my position, vote for trump. Vote for a Republican that shares that view. That’s your opportunity to get involved in lifetime appointments that — presidents come and go. Justices stay and stay and stay.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.