Raphael Warnock dodges Supreme Court packing question

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He had plenty of opportunities, but Democratic Senate candidate Raphael Warnock refused Sunday to say whether he would vote to enlarge the Supreme Court.

During the Georgia Senate debate, Mr. Warnock deflected a question about court-packing, pivoting instead to criminal-justice reform, and then dismissing the issue as unimportant to voters after being questioned by debate panelist Greg Bluestein, an Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter.

“As I move on across the state, Greg, people aren’t asking me about the courts and whether we should expand the courts,” Mr. Warnock said. “I know that’s an interesting question for people inside the Beltway to discuss. They’re wondering when in the world are they going to get some Covid relief.”

When Mr. Bluestein asked again, Mr. Warnock replied, “I’m really not focused on it, and I think that too often the politics in Washington has been about the politicians,” before switching to health care.

His opponent, Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler, hammered him for his evasive response.

“He’s also distracting from the fact that he would pack the Supreme Court. That’s outrageous,” said Ms. Loeffler. “Justice [Ruth] Ginsburg herself said herself nine is the right number. He would pack the court with radical justices that would legislate from the bench to fundamentally override the constitution and our laws in this country.”

She concluded that “Georgians need to know that is wrong for Georgia and our country.”

The two faced off at the Atlanta Press Club debate a month before the Jan. 5 runoff election, which also features a contest between Republican Sen. David Perdue and Democrat Jon Ossoff.

 

If Democrats win both seats, they will control the Senate, while Republicans need only win one race to keep the majority. Polls show both races are tight.

The Rev. Warnock, the senior pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, has been criticized by Republicans for refusing to address contentious issues.

Last month, he sidestepped CNN host Jake Tapper’s question about whether he attended a Fidel Castro speech in 1995 at the church where he worked. In an MSNBC “Morning Joe” interview, Mr. Warnock condemned anti-Semitism but not Chicago Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who has been accused of making anti-Semitic comments.

Mr. Warnock has defended the controversial preacher, known for his 2003 “God damn America” sermon.

“I know Rev. Wright,” Mr. Warnock said in the Nov. 12 interview. “I’m not an anti-Semite. I’ve never defended anti-Semitic comments from anyone, and Kelly Loeffler knows better.”

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