By John Kruzel
Vice President Pence at Wednesday’s vice presidential debate blasted Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) for refusing to say whether she would support expanding the Supreme Court in order to allow a Democratic president to nominate more liberal justices to the bench.
Harris and Democratic nominee Joe Biden have avoided directly answering the question since it began gaining prominence last month following the death of liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and President Trump’s rapid nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill Ginsburg’s seat.
Harris on Wednesday responded to Pence’s repeated prompts about her position on court packing by shifting attention to Senate Republicans’ efforts to fast-track Barrett’s confirmation despite 2020 being an election year, a reversal of Republicans’ rationale for blocking former President Obama’s nominee late in his second term. “Once again you gave a non-answer, Joe Biden gave a non-answer,” Pence replied.
“The American people deserve a straight answer. And if you haven’t figured it out yet, the straight answer is they are going to pack the Supreme Court if they somehow win this election.”
Wednesday’s debate featured numerous instances where the candidates declined to respond directly to questions posed by moderator Susan Page of USA Today.
Moments earlier, Pence dodged a question on whether he would support a total ban of abortions at the state level if the rightward-shifting Supreme Court were to overturn the landmark 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade legalizing abortion nationwide.
Harris’s side-stepping of the court packing question comes after Biden refused to give a definitive answer on his position during last week’s presidential debate.
“Whatever position I take in that, that’ll become the issue,” Biden told debate moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News. “The issue is the American people should speak. You’re voting now. Vote, and let your senators know how you feel.”
To pack the court, Democrats would need to retake the White House and Senate and likely abolish the filibuster in order to pass legislation to add seats to the Supreme Court.