Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden says voters “don’t deserve” to know his position on packing the Supreme Court.
Mr Biden made the controversial statement during a fiery exchange with a reporter on Friday, after days of dodging the politically charged issue.
Earlier this week Mr Biden was slammed for saying voters would “know my opinion on court packing when the election is over”.
With it seeming likely conservative judge Amy Coney Barrett will be confirmed by the Senate to replace the late progressive icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court, Democrats fear that the balance will swing towards conservatives.
Court packing would involve adding more seats to the nine-Justice bench to even out that balance of power.
But Mr Biden refuses to reveal whether he’s considering that as an option.
KTNV reporter Ross DiMattei told Mr Biden that the issue of court packing was the “number one thing I’ve been asked about from viewers in the past couple days”.
Mr Biden repeated his position that he doesn’t want President Donald Trump to frame the narrative around the Supreme Court.
“Well, you’ve been asked by the viewers, who are probably Republicans, who don’t want me continuing to talk about what they’re doing to the court right now,” he said.
However, when pressed, his answer changed.
“Well sir, don’t the voters deserve to know …” DiMattei pressed.
“No they don’t deserve – I’m not gonna play (Mr Trump’s) game,” Mr Biden said.
“He’d love that to be the discussion instead of what he’s doing now.”
The comments drew outrage from conservatives.
Earlier this week, Mr Biden dodged numerous questions about court packing.
“You’ll know my opinion on court packing when the election is over,” he told reporters during a visit to the swing state of Arizona.
“It’s a great question, and I don’t blame you for asking it. But you know the moment I answer that question, the headline in every one of your papers will be about that, (rather) than focusing on what is happening now.”
Mr Biden’s running mate Kamala Harris also refused to give a straight answer on court packing in the vice presidential debate.
“I think the American people would really like to know – if Judge Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed to the Supreme Court of the United States, are you and Joe Biden, if somehow you win, going to pack the Supreme Court to get your way?” Vice President Mike Pence asked Ms Harris.
“I’m so glad we went through a little history lesson,” Ms Harris replied, alluding to something Mr Pence said earlier.
“Let’s do that a little more. In 1864 …” she started to say.
“I would like you to answer the question,” Mr Pence interjected.
“Mr Vice President, I’m speaking. OK?” Ms Harris shot back.
“In 1864 – one of the political heroes, certainly of the President, is Abraham Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln was up for re-election. And it was 27 days before the election. And a seat became open on the Supreme Court. Abraham Lincoln’s party was in charge not only of the White House but the Senate. But Honest Abe said, ‘It’s not the right thing to do.’”
She added, “The American people deserve to make the decision about who will be the next president, and then that person can select who will serve for a lifetime on the highest court of our land.”