Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden blasted Republicans’ effort to speed through a replacement for Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court, warning that such a process would “inflict irreversible damage” on the country.
“There’s so much at stake,” Biden said Sunday in a speech at the Constitution Center in Philadelphia. “The right to health care, clean air, clean water, the environment, equal pay for equal work, the rights of voters, immigrants, women, workers. And right now, our country faces a choice: a choice about whether we will come back from the brink.”
Biden cast the moment in dark terms and pleaded with Republican senators not to go along with President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s plans to rush through a new justice, noting that voting has already started in many states.
“If we go down this path, I predict it will inflect irreversible damage,” he said, adding later, “The last thing we need is to add a consittutional crisis that plunges us deeper into the abyss.”
He said if he is elected before the new justice is confirmed, Trump’s nominee should be withdrawn.
Biden said Republicans’ were being hypocritical for blocking former President Barack Obama’s appointment of Merrick Garland in the final year of his term but changing course to signal they would vote on Trump’s nominee just weeks before the election.
The makeup of the court is particularly pressing for Democrats because the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a case seeking to gut Obamacare a week after Election Day as the coronavirus still grips the country.
Biden’s campaign said it would focus its the campaign s on policy, seeking to bridge what seems to voters to be a very Washington-centric fight over the timing of confirmation hearings to an issue of prime importance to them..
Oral arguments for the case California v. Texas are scheduled for Nov. 10. The case, led by Texas and supported by the Trump administration, challenges Obamacare’s individual mandate and could eliminate protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
With Democrats unable to delay the confirmation process in the Senate, Biden’s advisers are choosing to focus on the issues they see as most at risk if Republicans succeed in pushing the court even further to the right.
Democrats successfully gained a majority in the House of Representatives in 2018 by running on the same health-care issue. A Biden aide said the campaign would also highlight the risk Democrats see to environmental protections and reproductive rights.
After Ginsburg died, Biden said her replacement should be nominated by whoever wins the election.
Trump said Saturday he would nominate his pick, probably a woman, this week. The two frontrunners appear to be appellate court judges Amy Coney Barrett or Barbara Lagoa.
Ginsburg’s death has reshaped the presidential race with 44 days until the election. Up to now, Biden has primarily focused on the president’s mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic, seeking to tie the health and economic crises to the president. Trump now has the opportunity to focus on pushing the high court even further to the right, guaranteeing a conservative majority for a generation.