Joe Biden’s executive order on Friday creating a bipartisan commission to study structural changes to the Supreme Court hardly comes as a surprise in light of the cavalcade of radical moves that has defined his young presidency to date. Yet it feels like the latest bombshell, sandwiched as it is between yesterday’s news — his plan to rid America of its “epidemic” of gun violence — and tomorrow’s: his proposal for saving the earth from climate disaster.
As with just about everything else that comports with Biden’s promise to be the “most progressive president” ever, despite his forty years in politics as a moderate, his enthusiasm for exploring “structural changes” to the high court has not always been so keen. In 1983, a younger and more lucid Biden called court packing (which seems to be where he is heading) a “bonehead idea.”
1983: Sen. @JoeBiden calls FDR's attempt to pack the Supreme Court a "bonehead idea."
"It was a terrible, terrible mistake to make, and it put in question there for an entire decade the independence of THE most significant body… in this country." pic.twitter.com/MEPu0fMRG4
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) April 9, 2021
As recently as last year on the campaign trail, he repeatedly dodged the question before admitting twice that he was “not a fan of court packing,” The first time was in an interview with “60 Minutes” in which he said, “The last thing we need to do is turn the Supreme Court into just another political football, whoever’s got the most votes gets whatever they want.” Closer to the election, during another interview with the same program, he responded to the court-packing question with something that sounds a little closer to what he announced yesterday: “I’ll put together a national … bipartisan commission of scholars, constitutional scholars. Democrats, Republicans. Liberal, conservative. And I will ask them to, over 180 days, come back to me with recommendations as to how to reform the court system, because it’s getting out of whack.”
Getting out of whack? It would be interesting to hear him expound further on how he perceives that to be the case.