Will Biden really shy away from making the Supreme Court a campaign issue?

By Dave Andrusko

Let’s put two developments together—one from yesterday, the other from today—and see what they tell us about the landscape three and one-half months away from the November 3rd General Election

Bari Weiss is one of the very few opinion writers for the New York Times who does not mindless salute the “progressive” flag–and she just handed in her letter of resignation. If we are to take Weiss at her word, she has been merciless harassed and bullied by her colleagues as upper management cowers in fear of the Mob. Every syllable is worth reading; for us, this passage may be the most illuminating:

Part of me wishes I could say that my experience was unique. But the truth is that intellectual curiosity—let alone risk-taking—is now a liability at The Times. Why edit something challenging to our readers, or write something bold only to go through the numbing process of making it ideologically kosher, when we can assure ourselves of job security (and clicks) by publishing our 4000th op-ed arguing that Donald Trump is a unique danger to the country and the world? And so self-censorship has become the norm.

I don’t work at the Times (or the many other uniformly Trump hating news outlets) so I don’t know if there are as many dissenters from the campaign of harassment as she would like to believe but are simply self-silenced. I do know that even yours truly—someone who has preached for four years that there are no depths to which the Trump haters won’t sink—am stunned by the viciousness of the 24/7 assault.

What’s the other item? An opinion piece that ran in the other heavyweight newspaper, the Washington Post. The headline to Paul Waldman’s column is “Why Joe Biden won’t campaign on the Supreme Court” [https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/07/13/why-joe-biden-wont-campaign-supreme-court]. Why, indeed?

In 822 words, Walden offers several explanations why Biden “doesn’t seem particularly interested in making the court a campaign issue” as opposed to President Trump who continues to make appointments to the nation’s highest court one of his most visible priorities. None of these explanations for this “unfortunate omission” are particularly persuasive .

Consider: Biden is counting on the pandemic continuing to lay waste to the economy and to the countless ripple effects of the quarantine. Chaos—none of which is President Trump’s fault—is Biden’s friend.

So why would Biden publicly support expanding the High Court? Regardless of what Walden and a “number of progressive groups” believe, court expansion is a nakedly partisan effort which the public will quickly see for what it is. 

Walden floats the idea that “It’s possible that Biden just doesn’t think Democratic voters care enough about the courts, so it won’t be an issue that motivates them.” If the former vice president does, he is correct as Gallup poll after Gallup poll after Gallup poll has shown.

But the real explanation is found in Walden’s next sentence and in his concluding paragraph:

More likely, he has concluded that the fundamental theme of his campaign should be quiet reassurance. …

Biden may have adopted a progressive agenda, but he still wants to present it in moderate packaging. So don’t expect him to make an issue of the courts, even as Trump continues to do just that.

Walden believes Biden wants his cake and eat it too. They are not our issues but, trust me, Biden has adopted a Progressive agenda, with a Capital P but campaigns as good old middle-of-the-road Joe.

Abortion is a perfect example. If Biden does agree to debate President Trump, the issue will come up. Biden will mouth the pro-abortion code words—“codify Roe,” “support the right to privacy,” “trust women,” etc.. etc., etc. But Biden is a member of the-abortion- throughout-pregnancy party which he is happy to have the American public underwrite. He will insist President Trump is “twisting my words” and will insist it is time to move on to another more “pressing” subject.

Right now, Biden has chosen to say as little as possible about the future of the High Court and specifically about the futures of Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer, “both in their eighties,” as Walden notes.

Will see how low a profile Biden keeps on the Supreme Court when—and I say when, not if—the polls tighten.