WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is pushing for quick confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett while his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, implored the Republican-led Senate to hold off on voting on her nomination until after the Nov. 3 election to “let the people decide.”
Trump's announcement of Barrett for the seat held by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is launching a high-stakes, fast-track election season fight over confirmation of a conservative judge who is expected to shift the court rightward as it reviews health care, abortion access and other hot-button issues.
Speaking at a news conference Sunday at the White House, the president vowed she will be confirmed “very quickly.”
Biden appealed directly to his former colleagues in the Senate to “take a step back from the brink."
Biden is urging Senate Republicans not to fan a controversy during an already tumultuous election year for a country reeling from the coronavirus crisis, a struggling economy and protests over racial injustice.
If Trump wins the election, Biden said the president’s nominee should have a vote. But Biden said he should choose the next justice if he prevails on Nov. 3.
“This is time to de-escalate,” Biden said Sunday in Wilmington, Delaware.
No justice has ever been confirmed to the Supreme Court so close to a presidential election with early voting already underway in some states. Republicans believe the fight ahead will boost voter enthusiasm for Trump and Senate Republicans at serious risk of losing their majority. Democrats warn Barrett's confirmation would almost certainly undo Americans' health care protections as the high court takes up a case against the Affordable Care Act in the fall.
According to a national poll by The New York Times and Siena College that was released Sunday, a clear majority — 56% — of voters believes the winner of the Nov. 3 presidential election should fill Ginsburg’s seat, versus 41% who said Trump should as the current president. Biden has said he would nominate the first Black woman to the court, but he has not released the names of his potential choices.
The poll, which was conducted Sept. 22-24, had a margin of sampling error of 3.5 percentage points.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi argued that Trump was moving too quickly to fill the vacancy before the court hears a challenge to the Affordable Care Act on Nov. 10.
“It’s not about this justice. It’s about any justice he would appoint right now,” Pelosi said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Trump spotlighted Barrett’s Roman Catholic religion Sunday, portraying her as a victim of attacks on her faith. But it's her conservative approach to the law, particularly health care access that is drawing opposition from Democrats, not her private beliefs.
“It’s a disgrace,” Trump said.
Pelosi, a practicing Catholic like Barrett, sidestepped any focus on Barrett’s conservative religious outlook, which California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat, brought up in Barrett’s Senate hearings in 2017 when Trump nominated her for the appellate bench.