Jen Psaki Avoids Doocy’s Question On Biden’s Past Comments On Packing Supreme Court

Written by Carmine Sabia

OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion

Fox News White House Correspondent Peter Doocy has become a thorn in the side of the often inept-looking White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.

And Friday was more of the same as Doocy got under Psaki’s skin and, rather than get a straight answer from her, got snark, a transcript of the briefing showed.

Doocy referred to an earlier question by another reporter who asked “The President’s Commission on expanding the Supreme Court is out.  We know he’s going to wait for the results.  What is the President’s view on the — of the calls for Justice Breyer to step down?”

Psaki responded to that question saying, “He believes that’s a decision Justice Breyer will make when he decides it’s time to no longer serve on the Supreme Court.”

But what she did not do is address the fact that the commission is examining the merits of expanding, or “packing,” the court. Something Doocy called her on.

“President Biden once said, in 1983, he thought court-packing was —,” Doocy said before Psaki interrupted him with snark.

“Whoa.  A time-back machine,” she said.

Jen, it is called a time machine. Just a time machine. But Doocy carried on.

“Oh, yeah.  He said he thought that court-packing was a ‘bonehead idea’ when FDR tried it.  So why ask a panel now to go and see if it is a good idea?” he said.

“Well, first, he’s — the panel is being asked to do a number of — take a number of steps, including the pros and cons on exactly that issue,” the White House press secretary said stammering.

“But they will also be looking at the Court’s role in the constitutional system; the length of service and turnover of justice on the Court — justices on the Court; the membership and size of the Court; and the Court’s case selection rules and practices.

“And the makeup of this commission, which was vital for the President, was — is there are progressives on the Court, there are conservatives on the Court.  People will present different opinions and different points of view, and then they’ll have a report at the end of 180 days,” she said.


Are there any progressives on the court? Has she heard of Justices Elena Kagen, Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer?

She may as well have said that they simply want to change the rules no because there are more conservatives on the court than there are progressives.

And as far as some of the things the commission is considering, yes packing the court is legal but changing the length of time a justice serves is not, unless they get a Constitutional Amendment.

Fox News reported on Biden’s stance on the Supreme Court in 1983.

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Biden, then a U.S. Senator from Delaware, made the comments during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in July 1983 regarding nominations to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. At the time, Republican President Ronald Reagan had stoked controversy for attempting to replace three members of the commission.

Biden argued at the time that, although it was within the president’s right to do so, it risked damaging the credibility of the commission. He compared it to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s unsuccessful attempts in 1937 to expand the Supreme Court by six justices – in other words, pack the court.  

“President Roosevelt clearly had the right to send to the United States Senate and the United States Congress a proposal to pack the court. It was totally within his right to do that. He violated no law. He was legalistically, absolutely correct,” Biden said. “But it was a bonehead idea. It was a terrible, terrible mistake to make. And it put in question, if for an entire decade, the independence of the most significant body … in this country, the Supreme Court of the United States of America.”

That “time back machine” could be an issue for Biden now.