The decision by the U.S. Supreme Court this week to allow a strict Texas abortion law to remain in place has Democrats everywhere in an existential panic, but according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki, it has not caused any shift in President Joe Biden’s position on court packing, according to the Washington Examiner.
Exactly what that means, however, remains somewhat murky, given Biden’s reluctance during the 2020 presidential campaign and beyond to make his true preference on the question known, instead appointing a presidential commission to examine a series of issues pertaining to the high court, including whether it ought to be expanded beyond its current composition of nine justices.
During a Thursday briefing, Psaki declared, “The president’s view on the expansion of the courts has not changed,” and she also noted that the ongoing work of the aforementioned presidential commission includes exploration of a “range of questions” in addition to that of simply adding justices to the bench.
Liberal activists have been pushing the idea of court packing for several years, ever since former President Barack Obama was prevented by Republicans from securing confirmation of his own nominee, Merrick Garland, back in 2016.
The chorus on the left seeking expansion of the court grew even louder once former President Donald Trump was able to successfully place Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett on the court, cementing a conservative majority that could, presumably, endure for years.
As the Examiner noted, Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the liberal wing of the court with regard to the Texas law, but in the end, the statute was allowed to stand by a vote of 5-4, and the fact that yet another stringent abortion law – this time from the state of Mississippi – is also on the docket has Democrats justifiably concerned about whether the pivotal ruling in Roe v. Wade may be in real jeopardy.
Though Biden himself condemned the Texas abortion law – and the Supreme Court’s decision to let it stand – as likely to result in “unconstitutional chaos,” as Reuters noted, Psaki indicated that the outcome has not produced any change in the president’s view of court-packing proposals.
“He takes the role of institutions in our nation’s history, including the Supreme Court, quite seriously, the press secretary explained, adding, “That’s one of the reasons why this commission was put together and constructed the way it was,” and that she was unsure where her boss would ultimately “land” once the group’s final recommendations are unveiled.
Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) revealed on Thursday her plan to hold a vote on legislation designed to statutorily codify the ruling in Roe v. Wade, but give the extremely slim margin by which her party holds the majority in both chambers, the chances of passing such a measure are in serious doubt.