Kamala Harris gave a great answer on court-packing for the Biden campaign. The media is ignoring it.

Photo credit: Biden for President, Flickr. License.

One of the political headlines that came out of Thursday was Vice President Joe Biden, in response to shouted questions about his position on court-packing, saying that he won't entertain the question until after the election.

The problem with this question, as Biden has made clear on multiple occasions, is that whatever he says will become the story and will distract from the core issue of what the Republican plan to steal Justice Ginsburg's seat on the Court is about: their plan to get rid of the Affordable Care Act and critical protections that come with it through radical right judicial activism after the GOP has failed again and again to overturn it legislatively. In addition, we are literally in the middle of an election - not x number of days before it - and the voters should decide whether this president and this senate majority has done a good enough job in office to retain the powers of sitting a justice on the Supreme Court for life.

If Biden says he is for adding seats to rebalance the Supreme Court, that will become the story. If he says he is not, then that will be the story. Either will take the focus away from health care, what this is about.

But the media is also ignoring an incredibly poignant answer to this puzzle that Sen. Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice presidential nominee, gave to this question during the debate. Harris stated, in no uncertain terms, that a debate about packing the courts cannot take place without a full airing of the way Republicans have been packing the federal courts with unqualified, radical, far-right ideologues.

The national media has essentially completely ignored this valid, smart, and needed answer to the question of court packing. The media seems to have matched their talking with with the Trump campaign and the Republicans that the issue of court-packing is only about whether or not seats should be added to the Supreme Court.

But it cannot be. That frame represents a misunderstanding - I dare say a willful misunderstanding - of the core of what the issue around the courts is about. To the extent that this is an issue, this is an issue about restoring balance in the federal judiciary - a balance that was deliberately altered by an unprecedented Republican assault on the federal judiciary and on the very idea of a judicial system free from political influence of the elected branches of government.

Not only would RBG's seat be the second seat Republicans would steal on the Supreme Court - the first being the seat President Obama originally nominated Judge Merrick Garland to 10 months before the 2016 elections - it caps an incredible run of the radical right, systematically and purposefully, poisoning the federal judiciary. After Republicans won control of the Senate in 2014, Mitch McConnell held over 100 Obama-nominated federal judicial vacancies open, which the Republicans promptly filled with Trump appointees once Donald Trump was sworn in. More disastrously, they filled those seats with radical nominees of the Federalist Society, many of whom, as Kamala Harris highlighted, were rated patently unqualified by the American Bar Association.

That is packing the courts. Republicans packed the courts.

The federal courts - the Supreme Court, most importantly, but all federal courts - play a key role in securing rights of the American people, and particularly the rights of working people, poor people, women, people of color, LGBT people, and other underprivileged people who can rely only on the courts to preserve, protect, and defend their Constitutional rights just as vigorously as they would the rights of the privileged.

The Republican political assault has tilted the judiciary far to the right and away from its traditional constitutional role of safeguarding liberty and justice for all. If the Supreme Court and/or appeals courts were to add seats (and we have no idea if they would) in a unified Democratic government in 2021, it would be only to correct this imbalance and return the federal judiciary to its traditional, Constitutional role and bring it back from being a place for right wing political activism.

For the media to ignore this this vital need to restore judicial balance while they hound Joe Biden and Kamala Harris campaign for a cheap headline is a devastating indictment of the sad state of the press that covers the presidential campaign today.