Court Battles

Buttigieg defends court-packing proposal at Democratic debate

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South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg was the only Democratic presidential candidate on the debate stage Tuesday night to explicitly endorse court packing as way to prevent Roe v. Wade from being overturned by a conservative majority on the Supreme Court.

Buttigieg said he wasn’t wedded to expanding the number of justices but believes it would be an effective approach to limiting partisan control of the high court.

“Now, one way to fix this would be to have a 15-member court where five of the members can only be appointed by unanimous agreement of the other 10,” Buttigieg said.

{mosads}He also proposed term limits for Supreme Court justices as a potential alternative.

Other candidates who were asked about court packing were more wary of the idea.

Former Vice President Joe Biden said he would rather focus on the strength of a court nominee’s support for upholding abortion rights.

“I would not pack the court,” Biden said. “What I would do is make sure that the people that I recommended for the court from — Ruth Bader Ginsburg to Elena Kagan, who used to work for me, to others — that they, in fact, support the right of privacy, on which the entire notion of a woman’s right to choose is based.”

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro also pushed back on the notion of court packing, saying, “I think the plan that Mayor Pete mentioned is an interesting one, but I actually believe that if we were selecting from one of those things that the smarter move might be to look at term limits or having people cycle off from the appellate courts, so that you would have a replenishment of perspective.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) largely sidestepped the question, but said that given the broad support for Roe v. Wade, Congress should codify it into law.

“We should not leave this to the Supreme Court,” she said. “We should do it through democracy, because we can.”

Tags 2020 Democratic debate Abortion Court packing Elena Kagan Elizabeth Warren Joe Biden Ohio Pete Buttigieg Ruth Bader Ginsburg Supreme Court

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