court expansion is a real question Biden will grapple w/if he wins--but it's also a perfect example of how skilled Republicans are at shifting the conversation. They've broken precedent on two seats now, and are stoking outrage about how Dems *might* break precedent in the future
in the VP debate on Wednesday, Pence literally used the court question to shift the conversation when pressed about the health care plan that Trump has been promising for 4 years and still hasn't been able to produce--but because the Court question is new, that gets the coverage
Essentially, Rs are saying they hit Democrats 2x b/c they could, but they want Dems to commit to not punching back if/when they can. (Also:even if Biden is for expansion, doesn't mean he'd have enough senators to go along w/it. Almost every R senator has backed both Court moves)
the president and Senate Republicans have so prioritized the rushed confirmation that the announcement was a super spreader event, and hearings may become another--but they haven't done anything substantive on COVID relief for 5 months, as rent&bills come due for people beyond DC
ofc, embedded in Barrett rush before the election are two thoughts from Trump & Senate Rs: 1) it may help them win races; 2) they don't feel confident about winning races and want to get this before/in case they lose. If not for that, they could do in lame duck or next year.
Will there be liberal pressure on Biden, if he wins, to expand the court? Yes. Will he bow to it? Maybe, though he's a pretty committed institutionalist. But voters tend to focus on their own economics (and health care as part of that), and other direct problems in front of them
Few Dem Senate candidates have come up with a good way to word their answers that doesn't sound defensive. Biden has stumbled through some of what he's said. And when Pence changed the topic from healthcare to the Court, Harris bit and started talking about Lincoln's court pick
There's also an underlying assumption, based on how issues around the Court have played out in previous cycles, that the confirmation is top of mind for voters + that it's an advantage for Republicans. In all the polling that's been out so far, neither seems true.
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