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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 BidenMore than 300 military family members endorse Biden Five takeaways from the final Trump-Biden debate Biden: 'I would transition from the oil industry' 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 GinsburgThe Hill's Campaign Report: Trump, Biden face off for last time on the debate stage Clean energy opportunities in a time of crisis Trump when asked if he'd be kinder in his second term: 'Yes, I think so' 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) WallaceFive takeaways from the final Trump-Biden debate Chris Wallace says he was 'jealous' of moderator watching final debate between Trump and Biden Shift in tone dominates at final Trump-Biden clash 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 John TrumpMore than 300 military family members endorse Biden Five takeaways from the final Trump-Biden debate Biden: 'I would transition from the oil industry' 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.