Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden urged Senate Republicans to block efforts to push through a new Supreme Court justice before the November election, warning of “irreversible damage” if President Donald Trump gets his way.
“Don’t vote to confirm anyone nominated under the circumstances that President Trump and Senator [Mitch] McConnell have created,” Biden said Sunday in his first major speech since Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on Friday.
Don’t go there. Hold your constitutional duty and your conscience. Let the people speak. Cool the flames that have been engulfing our country.
The speech was largely a litany of reasons that Biden believes the winner of the upcoming election, which he expects to be himself, should pick Ginsburg’s replacement – from RBG’s deathbed “final wish” to racism, climate change and a refusal by the Republican-controlled Senate to allow President Barrack Obama’s 2016 Supreme Court nominee to get a confirmation vote.
“As a nation, we should heed her final call to us,” Biden said of Ginsburg, “not as a personal service to her, but as a service to the country, our country, at a crossroads.”
Biden was referring to Ginsburg reportedly telling her granddaughter that her “most fervent wish” is not to be “replaced until a new president is installed.”
Biden spoke of McConnell’s 2016 refusal to hold a confirmation vote on a Supreme Court nominee in an election year, saying it was “ridiculous” and contrary to the Senate’s constitutional obligations, then said that new standard must be followed in 2020.
“You can’t un-ring the bill,” Biden said. “Having made this their standard when it served their interests, they cannot, just four years later, change course when it doesn’t serve their ends.”
Former Vice President also spoke of the next Supreme Court justice being about the future, not the past, and therefore should be picked by the candidate voters choose in the upcoming election.
“To jam this nomination through this Senate is just an exercise in raw political power, and I don’t believe the people of this nation will stand for it,” Biden said.
If Trump nominates a judge before the election, the Senate should delay acting until after the election, Biden said. If Trump wins, the process should then go forward, but if he loses, his nomination should be withdrawn.
“Sorrow and frustration is the way things are in this country politically,” Biden said. “That’s the cycle Republican senators will continue to perpetuate if they go down this dangerous path that they put us on. We need to de-escalate, not escalate.”
Biden said that, unlike Trump, he won’t release a list of his potential Supreme Court nominees, adding that the person would become a target for “unrelenting political attacks.” He said he also wants to consider the advice of Senate Democrats and Republicans before making his final choice. He reiterated that his nominee would be a black woman.
The judicial-branch crossroads comes amid “unprecedented crises” facing the nation – including white supremacy, a “reckoning on race” and climate change, Biden said. He also spoke gravely of the Covid-19 pandemic, but stumbled at one point, saying 200 million people will have died from the virus “by the time I finish this talk.”
Joe Biden: “It’s estimated that 200 million people will die, probably by the time I finish this talk.”That’s nearly 2/3 of the U.S. population. pic.twitter.com/lp23K11K3o
“The last thing we need is to add a constitutional crisis that plunges us deeper into the abyss, deeper into the darkness,” Biden said. “If we go down this path, I believe it will cause irreversible damage.”
Some Twitter users set out to pick apart Biden’s reasons for a confirmation delay, including one who quipped, “I checked, but dying wishes weren’t included in the Constitution. And it’s probably not a good way to run a government.” Another said, “The president is the person who nominates the replacement, and RBG knew that.” Others pointed out that the voters have already spoken — when they elected Trump in 2016 and when they added Republican seats to the Senate in 2010, 2014 and 2018.
I checked but dying wishes weren’t included in the constitution. And it’s probably not a good way to run a government.
The president is the person who nominates the replacement. And RBG knew that.
But other commentators praised the speech, saying it was a “powerful message” and “it’s how a president of the US speaks and how he/she should think.”
This is an excellent speech. It’s how the President of the United States speaks, and how he/she should think.
Ironically, Ginsburg herself said in 2016 that it’s the job of the Senate to immediately assess the qualifications of a Supreme Court nominee. “There’s nothing in the Constitution that says the president stops being the president in his last year.”
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