Speaking at the Washington Conference on the Americas, Vice-President Kamala Harris, despite the fact that in 2019 as a presidential candidate she reportedly would not rule out packing the Supreme Court with additional justices, and still has not done so, pontificated that “an independent judiciary is critical to a healthy democracy and a strong economy.” Harris also posited that some of the “root causes” of the vast number of immigrants flooding the Southern border included the “lack of climate adaption and climate resilience.”
Harris opined, “So we want to help. Our administration wants to help. We want to pick back up the kind of work President Joe Biden started when he was vice-president. We want to help people find hope at home. And so, we are focused on addressing both the acute factors and the root causes of migration. And I believe this is an important distinction: we must focus on both. First, the acute factors, the catastrophes that are causing people to leave right now: the hurricanes, the pandemic, the drought, and extreme food insecurity.”
“And then there are the long-standing issues, the root causes,” she continued. “And I’m thinking of corruption, violence, and poverty. The lack of economic opportunity. The lack of climate adaption and climate resilience. The lack of good governance.”
Then Harris segued to her contention that a healthy democracy needed an independent judiciary, saying, “Just this weekend we learned that the Salvadoran parliament moved to undermine its nation’s highest court. An independent judiciary is critical to a healthy democracy and a strong economy.”
Politico reported in March 2019, when Harris was still running for the Democratic presidential nomination, “Sens. Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand told POLITICO they would not rule out expanding the Supreme Court if elected president, showcasing a new level of interest in the Democratic field on an issue that has until recently remained on the fringes of debate.” Harris stated, “We are on the verge of a crisis of confidence in the Supreme Court. We have to take this challenge head on, and everything is on the table to do that.”
During their vice-presidential debate last October, former Vice President Mike Pence asked Harris flat-out if she supported packing the Supreme Court. He stated:
When you speak about the Supreme Court, though, I think the American people really deserve an answer, Senator Harris. Are you and Joe Biden going to pack the court if Judge Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed? I mean, there’ve been 29 vacancies on the Supreme Court during presidential election years from George Washington to Barack Obama. Presidents have nominated in all 29 cases, but your party is actually openly advocating, adding seats to the Supreme court, which has had nine seats for 150 years if you don’t get your way. This is a classic case of if you can’t win by the rules, you’re going to change the rules. Now you’ve refused to answer the question. Joe Biden has refused to answer the question — you’ve refused to answer the question. Joe Biden has refused to answer the question. So I think the American people would really like to know if Judge Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed at the Supreme Court of the United States. Are you and Joe Biden, if somehow you win this election, going to pack the Supreme Court to get your way?
Harris dodged answering the question, and sidestepped this way:
In 1864, one of the, I think political heroes, certainly the President, I assume you also, Mr. Vice President, is Abraham Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln was up for reelection and it was 27 days before the election. And a seat became open on the United States Supreme Court. Abraham Lincoln’s party was in charge, not only of the White House, but the Senate. But Honest Abe said, “It’s not the right thing to do. The American people deserve to make the decision about who will be the next president of the United States. And then that person can select who will serve for a lifetime on the highest court of our land.” And so Joe and I are very clear: the American people are voting right now and it should be their decision about who will serve on this most important body for a lifetime.
Pence doggedly pursued her, asking, “People … are voting right now. They’d like to know if you and Joe Biden are going to pack the Supreme Court if you don’t get your way in this nomination. You, once again, gave a non-answer. Joe Biden gave a non-answer. … You know the people deserve a straight answer, and if you haven’t figured it out yet, the straight answer is they are going to pack the Supreme Court if they somehow win this election. Men and women, I got to tell you people across this country, if you cherish our Supreme Court, if you cherish the separation of powers, you need to reject the Biden Harris ticket come November the third, reelect President Donald Trump, and we’ll stand by that separation powers in a nine seats Supreme Court.”
Harris continued dodging, saying, “Let’s talk about packing the court then. Let’s talk about the fact. … So the Trump Pence administration has been, because I sit on the Senate judiciary committee, Susan as you mentioned, and I’ve witnessed the appointments for lifetime appointments to the federal courts, district courts, courts of appeal, people who are purely ideological, people who have been reviewed by legal professional organizations and found who have been not competent are substandard. And do you know that of the 50 people who President Trump appointed to the court of appeals for lifetime appointments, not one is black? This is what they’ve been doing. You want to talk about packing a court? Let’s have that discussion.”
In April, President Biden issued an executive order to create a Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court of the United States that would “examine include the genesis of the reform debate; the Court’s role in the Constitutional system; the length of service and turnover of justices on the Court; the membership and size of the Court; and the Court’s case selection, rules, and practices.”
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