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Biden refuses to take position on packing Supreme Court

Biden refuses to take position on packing Supreme Court
© JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images

Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenFour members of Sikh community among victims in Indianapolis shooting Overnight Health: NIH reverses Trump's ban on fetal tissue research | Biden investing .7B to fight virus variants | CDC panel to meet again Friday on J&J On The Money: Moderates' 0B infrastructure bill is a tough sell with Democrats | Justice Dept. sues Trump ally Roger Stone for unpaid taxes MORE on Tuesday refused to answer a debate question about whether he supports a proposal that would expand the number of seats on the Supreme Court and allow Democrats to confirm additional liberal justices to the bench.

Biden has avoided giving a definitive answer about his position since the question gained salience following the Sept. 18 death of the staunch liberal Justice Ruth Bader GinsburgRuth Bader GinsburgDemocratic Rep. Mondaire Jones calls on Breyer to retire Democrats roll out legislation to expand Supreme Court Pelosi rips McConnell in new book: He's an 'enabler of some of the worst stuff' MORE, and he again sidestepped it when asked at the first presidential debate.

“Whatever position I take in that, that'll become the issue,” Biden told debate moderator Chris WallaceChristopher (Chris) WallaceMcConnell seeks to end feud with Trump The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden meets with bipartisan lawmakers for infrastructure negotiations Biden to meet Monday with bipartisan lawmakers about infrastructure MORE of Fox News. “The issue is the American people should speak. You’re voting now. Vote, and let your senators know how you feel.”

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President TrumpDonald TrumpFreedom Caucus member condemns GOP group pushing 'Anglo-Saxon political traditions' MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell's new free speech site to ban certain curse words Secret Facebook groups of special operations officers include racist comments, QAnon posts: report MORE then interjected and pressed for an answer, provoking a strong reaction from Biden, who said: “Would you shut up, man?”

Tuesday’s debate comes just days after Trump nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill Ginsburg’s seat on the Supreme Court.

Ginsburg, who died from cancer at age 87, was a reliably liberal vote who in many respects stands to be replaced by her ideological opposite. If confirmed, Barrett is seen as likely to lend a sympathetic audience to legal challenges targeting abortion rights, the scope of federal agencies and the Affordable Care Act, former President Obama’s sweeping health care law, which faces another GOP-led challenge during the court’s upcoming term.

Democrats fear a rightward shift on the court could radically reshape the lives of millions of Americans. With a 6-3 conservative majority in place, even relatively stable areas of law — such as race relations, voting rights and environmental regulatory power — could be upended, giving conservative activists a chance to reverse liberal gains and cement their own legal agenda for years or decades to come.

Updated: 10:08 p.m.