Washington — Former Vice President Joe Biden said he is "not a fan" of adding additional seats to the Supreme Court, his clearest answer yet on the issue after weeks of declining to address the topic.
"I'm not a fan of court packing, but I don't want to get off on that whole issue. I want to keep focused," Biden told CBS affiliate WKRC-TV in Cincinnati after a campaign event Monday. "The president would love nothing better than to fight about whether or not I would in fact pack the court or not pack the court, etc. The focus is why is he doing what he is doing now."
The idea of expanding the court beyond its current composition of nine justices has gained traction among progressives since the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Republicans' efforts to fill the seat before the November election to solidify a 6-3 conservative majority. Confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Trump's nominee, began on Monday.
The number of justices on the Supreme Court is not specified in the Constitution, which leaves it up to Congress. There have been nine justices on the court since 1869.
Biden said in 2019 that he opposed the idea of adding more justices to rebalance the court's ideological makeup, but has declined to state his position in the weeks since Ginsburg's death. Last week, he told reporters he would not address the topic before November 3. "You will know my opinion on court packing when the election is over," he said. Senator Kamala Harris, Biden's running mate, likewise declined to say whether she supported the idea in last week's.
Republicans and the Trump campaign have attacked Biden for his refusal to say whether he supports adding more justices, with Mr. Trump criticizing him over the issue at a campaign rally on Monday.
"Biden even refuses to answer questions on the packing of the Supreme Court. Nobody even thought of that for many, many, many decades," Mr. Trump said at an event in Florida. "And that's what they want to do. They can't get there legitimately so they say, 'That's all right, we'll just pack the court. We'll put a lot of super lefties on the court and we'll have a whole different country.'"
Changing the number of justices on the Supreme Court would require an act of Congress and the president's signature. President Franklin Roosevelt famously tried and failed to expand the court to 15 justices after a series of rulings striking down several New Deal programs.