Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, told “Mornings with Maria” on Thursday that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s comments on packing the Supreme Court during a preview video clip from CBS’ “60 Minutes” were “really chilling.”
“If elected what I will do is I’ll put together a national commission of, bipartisan commission of, scholars, constitutional scholars, Democrats, Republicans, liberal, conservative. And I will ask them to, over 180 days, come back to me with recommendations as to how to reform the court system because it’s getting out of whack the way in which it’s being handled,” Biden said during the “60 Minutes” interview.
“And it’s not about court packing, there is a number of other things that our constitutional scholars have debated and I’d look to see what recommendations that commission might make,” Biden added.
CBS News' Norah O'Donnell then asked Biden if he is saying he is “going to study this issue about whether to pack the court?”
“No, whether there’s a number of alternatives that go well beyond packing,” he responded.
“This is a live ball,” O'Donnell said.
“It is a live ball,” Biden said in response. “We’re going to have to do that and you’re going to find there’s a lot of conservative constitutional scholars that are saying that as well.”
“The last thing we need to do is turn the Supreme Court into just a political football, whoever has the most votes gets whatever they want,” Biden continued. “Presidents come and go, Supreme Court justices stay for generations.”
Reacting to Biden’s comments during the interview, Cruz, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the “video was really chilling.”
“Joe Biden said that his objective is to go quote ‘well beyond packing,’” the Texas senator continued, adding that packing the Supreme Court is “an abuse of power” and “would destroy the independence of the judiciary.”
The fight over the seat of late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has thrown the Supreme Court and its current tenuous conservative majority into focus once again, as Republicans have the chance to solidify the court's rightward lean by replacing Ginsburg with President Trump’s nominee, Amy Coney Barrett. The prospect has roiled Democrats and led them to re-up their threats to "expand the Supreme Court" if they take back the Senate majority.
Such a move, known as court packing, would be aimed at tipping the balance of the Supreme Court back in favor of liberals if Democrats manage to take the Senate and the presidency. It has not been tried since President Franklin Delano Roosevelt threatened to expand the bench to 15 justices due to his frustration with the Supreme Court regularly thwarting his New Deal programs on constitutional grounds.
“The Democratic Party in 1937 rejected FDR’s attempt to do it and that’s what Joe Biden wants to do, it’s abusing the court,” Cruz told host Maria Bartiromo on Thursday. “We need to preserve the independence of the court and we need to defend our constitutional rights.”
Biden had repeatedly refused to answer questions on the issue of court packing, both in his September debate against President Trump and in interviews, but recently said he was "not a fan of court packing."
Earlier this month, Biden faced criticism when he said voters do not deserve to know if he would attempt to pack the Supreme Court if he wins in November and Trump's Supreme Court nominee is confirmed.
The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday unanimously advanced Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination at its executive business meeting despite a decision by Democrats to boycott the Thursday markup in protest of how close Republicans are moving the nomination to Election Day.
Fox News’ Tyler Olson and Ronn Blitzer contributed to this report.