Joe Biden predicted he wouldn’t make it past 2019, let alone be around long enough to run in the 2020 election. While addressing a Michigan Law School audience in April 1991, then-Senator Joe Biden was trying to emphasize the long-lasting power of the federal judicial body.
“If they live, Justice Souter God willing lives, as long as the average age of the court now, he’ll be making landmark decisions in the year 2020,” said Biden. “I’ll be dead and gone, in all probability.”
And though he’s still around and kicking it, his prediction wasn’t all wrong.
Almost 30 years later, Justice Clarence Thomas, the man who was confirmed to the Court that year, is still rendering decisions — the eldest jurist, if President Trump secures a vote, of a potential 6-to-3 conservative majority, according to the New York Times.
After Trump’s Supreme Court nomination announcement — Amy Coney Barrett — on Saturday, Democrats are left to ponder what the Court’s emerging tilt would mean for their agenda if Biden takes the White House; after a half-century in public life, if elected, Biden could be tossed into a Supreme Court staged to counteract his policies on health care, abortion and other revolutionary issues.
And in the wake of the Supreme Court drama, many Democrats now believe that adding seats to the court, or “packing” it, is the only way forward, a move that has not been considered since the FDR administration. They argue that the Court’s legitimacy has already eroded amid the Republican confirmation maneuvers of the last four years and fear that the Republican stain will soon be irreversible.
But, Biden dismissed that idea, predicting Democrats will regret that decision.
Evidently, though not completely dead, he is “effectively powerless to stop the ideological drift of a court wrenched to the right,” according to the New York Times. “And even if Mr. Biden is elected, his institutionalist bearing might preclude his support for a possible workaround.”
If Trump’s nominee is confirmed, not only will it impact the next presidential administration, the significant conservative sway in the Court will have lasting effects, even as far as 2050, according to Biden’s logic.
And while Biden ended up making it to 2020 in the flesh, his policies – if elected – may not even make it until the end of his first week.