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Biden says the next president may get to name two Supreme Court justices

President Biden speaks next to former President Barack Obama onstage during a campaign fundraiser in Los Angeles on June 15,
Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images
President Biden speaks next to former President Barack Obama onstage during a campaign fundraiser in Los Angeles on June 15,

LOS ANGELES – President Biden on Saturday night said he expects the winner of this year’s presidential election will likely have the chance to fill two vacancies on the Supreme Court – a decision he warned would be “one of the scariest parts” if his Republican opponent, former President Donald Trump, is successful in his bid for a second term.

Biden made the remarks at a fundraiser that his campaign said raised a record $28 million. The event featured Hollywood stars like George Clooney and Julia Roberts, as well as former President Barack Obama.

Late-night host Jimmy Kimmel moderated a conversation with Biden and Obama, and the two presidents talked about the impact that Trump had on issues like abortion rights by naming conservative justices to the Supreme Court.

“The next president is likely to have two new Supreme Court nominees. Two more. He’s already appointed two that have been very negative in terms of rights of individuals,” Biden said. Trump named three justices during his term – Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanagh and Amy Coney Barrett – cementing the conservative majority on the bench.

Biden, who flew to Los Angeles on the heels of attending the G7 summit in Italy, did not expand upon how the two vacancies on the court would come about.

At the fundraiser, Biden referred to a recent report about Justice Samuel Alito, whose wife raised an upside-down U.S. flag outside their home after some Trump supporters carried upside-down flags at the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.

“The idea that if he (Trump) is reelected, he can appoint two more, flying flags upside down…” Biden said. Kimmel asked Biden whether that would be the “scariest part” of a second Trump term. “I think it’s one of the scariest parts,” Biden replied.

Biden filled one Supreme Court vacancy during his term, nominating Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first Black woman to serve on the court.

This is the second recent time Biden has mentioned potential future vacancies on the courts. He told a campaign rally last month that he would name “progressive judges” to fill vacancies. “The next president -- they’re going to be able to appoint a couple of justices,” Biden said in Philadelphia at the launch of an effort to court Black voters.

“Look: if, in fact, we’re able to change some of the justices when they retire and put in really progressive judges like we’ve always had, tell me that won’t change your life when Trump justices are already gutting voting rights, overturning Roe, decimating affirmative action, and so much more,” he said that event.

Copyright 2024 NPR

Deepa Shivaram is a multi-platform political reporter on NPR's Washington Desk.