Published: 19:56 BST, 20 September 2020 | Updated: 20:20 BST, 20 September 2020
Former Vice President Joe Biden appealed to Senate Republicans Sunday not to allow President Trump to ‘jam’ through’ a Supreme court pick – and said if he himself wins in November, it should be he who gets to make the selection.
‘This appointment isn’t about the past. It’s about the future. And the people of this nation are choosing their future right now as they vote,’ Biden said in a speech in Philadelphia Sunday.
‘To jam this nomination through the 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.
‘President Trump has already made clear that this is about power, pure and simple power,’ Joe Biden said Sunday
After heralding the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Biden said the American people would not stand for what he said would be an ‘abuse of power.’
‘President Trump has already made clear that this is about power, pure and simple power,’ Biden said.
‘Even if President Trump wants to put forward a name now, the Senate should not act until after the American people select their next president, their next Congress, their next Senate,’ he added.
Biden said that if Trump wins, ‘Then the Senate should move on his selection and and weigh the nomination he choses fairly,’ Biden said.
He went after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for stating immediately after Ginsburg’s death that Trump’s nominee would come to the Senate for a vote.
WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 18: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg (L) and Robbie Myers, Editor-in-Chief, ELLE, attend the ELLE and HUGO BOSS Women in Washington Power List Dinner at The Residence of the German Ambassador on March 18, 2015 in Washington, DC. Biden said he had spoken to members of Ginsburg’s family since her passing Friday
Speaking from the National Constitution Center, Biden called out the ‘grave wrong that President Trump and McConnell are pursuing here.’
‘Even if President Trump wants to put forward a name now, the Senate should not act until after the American people select their next president, their next Congress, their next Senate,’ said Biden, speaking from the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.
Many of Biden’s remarks were directed not at Trump and McConnell, but at Senate Republicans who could derail the nomination. A pair of them, Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, have said the Senate should not take up a nomination before the election.
McConnell cited what he called the ‘Biden rule’ in thwarting Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination in 2016, holding it up for nearly 9 months without a hearing at the end of President Obama’s term.
Biden blasted McConnell for the ‘made-up a rule based on the fiction that I someone believed that there should be no nomination to the court in an election year.’
‘He created a new rule, the McConnell rule. Absolutely no hearing, no vote for a nominee in an election year. Period, no caveats,’ Biden said.
Biden said he was not being ‘naive’ and reserved comments for current Republicans – some of whom are up for reelection.
President Trump said Saturday his Supreme Court nominee is most likely to be a woman. On Sunday he tweeted about Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski
‘I’m speaking to those Republicans out there, Senate Republicans who know deep down what is right for the country and consistent with the Constitution as I stand here in the Constitution Center, not just what’s best for their party,’ he said.
Biden also rattled through the list of issues that are at stake in a Supreme Court nomination – including health care protections in the Affordable Care Act.
His shot at McConnell how McConnell used Biden’s past words against him while killing the Garland nomination and infuriating Democrats.
Biden as Judiciary Chairman in 1992 at the end of the George H.W. Bush presidency said in a floor speech that ‘action on a Supreme Court nomination must be put off until after the election campaign is over.’ No such vacancy occurred, however.
Biden also eulogized Ginsburg as a ‘hero’ and an ‘icon,’ and spoke of the end of her life with her family. He said he had spoken to her family members since Ginsburg’s passing. ‘She held her hand and gave them strength and purpose to carry on,’ said Biden.
He noted that Ginsburg died on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year. ‘A person who dies during the Jewish new year is considered a soul of great righteousness. That was Ruth Bader Ginsburg: a righteous soul,’ said Biden.
Biden’s remarks referencing comments by Judiciary Chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham in 2016 during the Garland embargo.
‘I want you to use my words against me,’ Graham said. ‘If there’s a Republican president in 2016 and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term, you can say Lindsey Graham said let’s let the next president, whoever it might be, make that nomination.’
He also quoted former Judiciary Chairman Sen. Charles Grassley, who also spoke against an election year vote on a nomination.
Biden said millions of Americans would have voted by October 1, and their voices should be included.
Biden also tried to keep a focus on the coronavirus – saying 200,000 would have died ‘probably by the time I finish this talk’ – although he accidentally said 200 million.
Biden blasted Trump for ‘scrambling norms,’ and called out the president for the decision to put out a list he will draw from for Supreme Court nominees.
‘It’s a game for them. It’s a play to gin up emotions and anger,’ Trump said. He gave what he said were the reasons he would put out no such list – although he has said he would appoint a black woman to the court.
‘Putting a judges name on a list like that could influence that person’s decision making as a judge and that would be wrong,’ Biden said.
‘Anyone put on a list like that under these circumstances’ would be ‘subject to unrelenting political attacks,’ Biden said.
We know how hard that is to watch a piece of your soul absorb the cruelty and pain of that dreadful disease of cancer.
But as I spoke with her daughter and granddaughter last night, they made clear that until the very end she displayed the character and courage we would expect of her. She held their hand and gave them strength and purpose to carry on.
By tradition, a person who dies during the Jewish New Year is considered a soul of great righteousness.
It was my honor to preside over her confirmation hearings, and to strongly support her accession to the Supreme Court.
Justice Ginsburg achieved a standing few justices do. She became a presence in the lives of so many Americans, a part of the culture.
She was a trailblazer, a role model, a source of hope, and a powerful voice for justice.
She was proof that courage and conviction and moral clarity can change not just the law, but also the world.
And I believe in the days and months and years to follow, she will continue to inspire millions of Americans all across this country. And together, we can — and we will — continue to be voices for justice in her name.
As a nation, we should heed her final call to us — not as a personal service to her, but as a service to the country at a crossroads.
There is so much at stake — the right to health care, clean air and water, and equal pay for equal work. The rights of voters, immigrants, women, and workers.
And right now, our country faces a choice. A choice about whether we can come back from the brink.
Within an hour of news of her passing, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said President Trump’s nominee to replace Justice Ginsburg will receive a vote in the Senate.
The exact opposite of what he said when President Obama nominated Merrick Garland to replace Justice Scalia in 2016.
At that time, Majority Leader McConnell made up a rule based on the fiction that I somehow believed that there should be no nomination to the Court in an election year.
The only rule I ever followed related to Supreme Court nominations was the Constitution’s obligation for Senators to provide advice and consent to the president on judicial nominees.
But he created a new one — the McConnell Rule: absolutely no hearing and no vote for a nominee in an election year.
And many Republican Senators agreed. Including then-Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chuck Grassley of Iowa. Including the current Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Lindsay Graham of South Carolina. Who at the time said, and I quote verbatim:
That is what Republicans said when Justice Scalia passed away — about nine months before Election Day that year. Now, having lost Justice Ginsburg less than seven weeks before Election Day this year — after Americans have already begun to cast their votes — they cannot unring the bell.
Having made this their standard when it served their interest, they cannot, just four years later, change course when it doesn’t serve their ends. And I’m not being naive.
I’m speaking to those Senate Republicans out there who know deep down what is right for the country — not just for their party.
I’m speaking for the millions of Americans out there, who are already voting in this election. Millions of Americans who are voting because they know their health care hangs in the balance.
In the middle of the worst global health crisis in living memory, Donald Trump is at the Supreme Court trying to strip health coverage away from tens of millions of families and to strip away the peace of mind from more than 100 million people with pre-existing conditions.
And perhaps, most cruelly of all, if Donald Trump has his way, complications from COVID-19, like lung scarring and heart damage, could become the next deniable pre-existing condition.
Millions of Americans who are also voting because they don’t want nearly a half century of legal precedent to be overturned and lose their right to choose.
Millions of Dreamers who are at risk of being expelled from the only country they have ever known.
Millions of Americans who are demanding that their voices be heard and that equal justice be guaranteed for all.
And in just a few weeks, all the voters of this nation will be heard. They are the ones who should decide who has the power to make this appointment.
This appointment isn’t about the past. It’s about the future. And the people of this nation are choosing the future right now.
Well, the voters should make it clear on this issue and so many others: the power in this nation resides with them — the people.
And even if President Trump wants to put forward a name now, the Senate should not act on it until after the American people select their next president and the next Congress.
If Donald Trump wins the election — then the Senate should move on his selection — and weigh that nominee fairly.
As the new President, I should be the one who nominates Justice Ginsburg’s successor, a nominee who should get a fair hearing in the Senate before a confirmation vote.
We’re in the middle of a pandemic. We’re passing 200,000 American deaths lost to this virus. Tens of millions of Americans are on unemployment.
And now, in a raw political move – this president and the Republican leader have decided to jam a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court through the United States Senate.
In just a few weeks, we are going to know who the voters of this nation have chosen to be their next president.
The United States Constitution was designed to give the voters one chance – to have their voice heard on who serves on the Court.
That moment is now — and their voice should be heard. And I believe voters are going to make it clear – they will not stand for this abuse of power.
There’s also discussion about what happens if the Senate confirms — on election eve – or in a lame duck after Donald Trump loses — a successor to Justice Ginsburg.
But that discussion assumes that we lose this effort to prevent the grave wrong that Trump and McConnell are pursuing here.
And I’m not going to assume failure at this point. I believe the voices of the American people should be heard.
That’s the cycle that Republican Senators will continue to perpetuate if they go down this dangerous path they have put us on.
So I appeal to those few Senate Republicans — the handful who will really decide what happens.
Don’t vote to confirm anyone nominated under the circumstances President Trump and Senator McConnell have created.
We can’t keep rewriting history, scrambling norms, and ignoring our cherished system of checks and balances.
That includes this whole business of releasing a list of potential nominees that I would put forward.
It’s no wonder the Trump campaign asked that I release a list only hours after Justice Ginsburg passed away.
There’s a reason why no Presidential candidate other than Donald Trump has ever done such a thing.
First, putting a judge’s name on a list like that -could influence that person’s decision-making as a judge — and that’s wrong.
Second, anyone put on a list like that under these circumstances – will be the subject of unrelenting political attacks.
And because any nominee I would select would not get a hearing until 2021 at the earliest – she would endure those attacks for months on end without being able to defend herself.
Third, and finally, and perhaps most importantly, if I win, I will make my choice for the Supreme Court — not as part of a partisan election campaign — but as prior Presidents did.
Only after consulting Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. Senate – and seeking their advice before I ask for their consent.
As everyone knows – I have made it clear that my first choice for the Supreme Court will make history as the first African American woman Justice.
I will consult with Senators in both parties about that pick, as well as with legal and civic leaders. In the end, the choice will be mine and mine alone.
But it will be the product of a process that restores our finest traditions – not the extension of one that has torn this country apart.
As I’ve said in this campaign, we are in the battle for the soul of this country.
We face four historic crises. A once-in-a-generation pandemic. A devastating economic recession. The rise of white supremacy unseen since the 1960’s, and a reckoning on race long overdue. And a changing climate that is ravaging our nation as we speak.
Supreme Court decisions touch every part of these crises — every part of our lives and our future.
The last thing we need is to add a constitutional crisis that plunges us deeper into the abyss – deeper into the darkness.
I’m not saying that we have to agree on everything. But we have to reason our way through to what ails us – as citizens, voters, and public servants. We have to act in good faith and mutual good will. In a spirit of conciliation, not confrontation.
This nation will continue to be inspired by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, but we should be guided by her as well.
By her willingness to listen, to hear those she disagreed with, to respect other points of view.
Famously, Justice Ginsburg got along well with some of the most conservative justices on the Court.
And she did it without compromising her principles – or clouding her moral clarity – or losing her core principles.
How we talk to one another matters. How we treat one another matters. Respecting others matters.
Justice Ginsburg proved it’s important to have a spine of steel, but it’s also important to offer an open hand — and not a closed fist — to those you disagree with.
I have said it many times in this election. We are the United States of America.
There’s nothing we cannot do if we do it together. Maybe Donald Trump wants to divide this nation between Red States and Blue States.
On Saturday afternoon, Trump named Amy Coney Barrett, 48, of the Chicago-based 7th Circuit and Barbara Lagoa, 52, of the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit as possible nominees.
Emerging as the favorite is Barrett, 48, a mother of seven children, including two adopted from Haiti and one with special needs.
Her involvement in a cult-like Catholic group where members are assigned a ‘handmaiden’ has caused concern in Barret’s nomination to other courts and is set to come under fierce review again if she is Trump’s pick.
The group was the one which helped inspire ‘The Handmaids Tale’, book’s author Margaret Atwood has said.
Barrett emerges now as a front runner after she was already shortlisted for the nomination in 2018 which eventually went to Brett Kavanaugh.
Born in New Orleans in 1972, she was the first and only woman to occupy an Indiana seat on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
Married to Jesse M. Barrett, a partner at SouthBank Legal in South Bend and former Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana, the couple have five biological and two adopted children.
Friends say she is a devoted mother – and say with just an hour to go until she was voted into the 7th District Court of Appeals by the U.S. Senate in 2017, Barrett was outside trick-or-treating with her kids.
Barrett’s strong Christian ideology makes her a favorite of the right but her involvement in a religious group sometimes branded as a ‘cult’ is set to be harshly criticized.
In 2017, her affiliation to the small, tightly knit Christian group called People of Praise caused concern while she was a nominee for a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
The New York Times reported that the practices of the group would surprise even other Catholics with members of the group swearing a lifelong oath of loyalty, called a covenant, to one another.
They are also assigned and held accountable to a personal adviser, known until recently as a ‘head’ for men and a ‘handmaid’ for women and believe in prophecy, speaking in tongues and divine healings.
Members are also encouraged to confess personal sins, financial information and other sensitive disclosures to these advisors.
Advisors are allowed to report these admissions to group leadership if necessary, according to an account of one former member.
The organization itself says that the term ‘handmaid’ was a reference to Jesus’s mother Mary’s description of herself as a ‘handmaid of the Lord.’
They said they recently stopped using the term due to cultural shifts and now use the name ‘women leaders.’
The group deems that husbands are the heads of their wives and should take authority over the family while ‘the heads and handmaids give direction on important decisions, including whom to date or marry, where to live, whether to take a job or buy a home, and how to raise children,’ the Times reported.
Unmarried members are placed living with married couples members often look to buy or rent homes near other members.
Founded in 1971, People of Praise was part of the era’s ‘great emergence of lay ministries and lay movements in the Catholic Church,’ founder Bishop Peter Smith told the Catholic News Agency.
According to CNA, some former members of the People of Praise allege that leaders exerted undue influence over family decision-making, or pressured the children of members to commit to the group.
At least 10 members of Barrett’s family, not including their children, also belong to the group.
Barrett’s father, Mike Coney, serves on the People of Praise’s powerful 11-member board of governors, described as the group’s ‘highest authority.’
The group’s ultra-conservative religious tenets helped spur author Margaret Atwood to publish The Handmaid’s Tale, a story about a religious takeover of the U.S. government, according to a 1986 interview with the writer.
According to legal experts, loyalty oaths such at the one Barrett would have taken to People of Praise could raise legitimate questions about a judicial nominee’s independence and impartiality.
‘These groups can become so absorbing that it’s difficult for a person to retain individual judgment,’ said Sarah Barringer Gordon, a professor of constitutional law and history at the University of Pennsylvania.
‘I don’t think it’s discriminatory or hostile to religion to want to learn more’ about her relationship with the group.
‘We don’t try to control people,’ said Craig S. Lent. ‘And there’s never any guarantee that the leader is always right. You have to discern and act in the Lord.
‘If and when members hold political offices, or judicial offices, or administrative offices, we would certainly not tell them how to discharge their responsibilities.’
During her professional career, Barrett spent two decades as a law professor at the University of Notre Dame, from which she holds her bachelor’s and law degrees.
She was named ‘Distinguished Professor of the Year’ three separate years, a title decided by students.
A former clerk for late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, she was nominated by Trump to serve on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2017 and confirmed in a 55-43 vote by the Senate later that year.
At the time, three Democratic senators supported her nomination: Joe Donnelly (Ind.), who subsequently lost his 2018 reelection bid, Tim Kaine (Va.) and Joe Manchin (W.Va.), according to the Hill.
She was backed by every GOP senator at the time, but she did not disclose her relationship with People of Praise which led to later criticism of her appointment.
Yet these beliefs are certain to cause problems with her conformation and stand in opposition to the beliefs of Ginsburg, who she would be replacing.
Her deep Catholic faith was cited by Democrats as a large disadvantage during her 2017 confirmation hearing for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit.
‘If you’re asking whether I take my faith seriously and I’m a faithful Catholic, I am,’ Barrett responded during that hearing, ‘although I would stress that my personal church affiliation or my religious belief would not bear in the discharge of my duties as a judge.’
Republicans now believe that she performed well in her defense during this hearing, leaving her potentially capable of doing the same if facing the Senate Judiciary Committee.
She is a former member of the Notre Dame’s ‘Faculty for Life’ and in 2015 signed a letter to the Catholic Church affirming the ‘teachings of the Church as truth.’
Among those teachings were the ‘value of human life from conception to natural death’ and marriage-family values ‘founded on the indissoluble commitment of a man and a woman’.
She has previously written that Supreme Court precedents are not sacrosanct. Liberals have taken these comments as a threat to the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion nationwide.
Barrett wrote that she agrees ‘with those who say that a justice’s duty is to the Constitution and that it is thus more legitimate for her to enforce her best understanding of the Constitution rather than a precedent she thinks clearly in conflict with it’.
Among the other statements that have cause concern for liberal are her declaration that ObamaCare’s birth control mandate is ‘grave violation of religious freedom.’
LGBTQ organizations also voiced their concern about her when she was first named on the shortlist.
In a case from June 2020, IndyStar reports that she was the sole voice on a three-judge panel that supported allowing federal enforcement of Trump’s public charge immigration law in Illinois,
The law would have prevented immigrants from getting legal residency in the United States if they rely on public benefits like food stamps or housing vouchers.
Barbara Lagoa , 52, was named by Trump as one of his potential nominees to the Supreme Court.
A Cuban American who parents fled to the U.S., Lagoa was born in Miami in 1967. She grew up in the largely Cuban American city of Hialeah.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, her parents fled Cuba over five decades ago when Fidel Castro’s Communist dictatorship took over.
During the 2019 news conference in Miami announcing her appointment to the Supreme Court, she told the crowd that her father had to give up his ‘dream of becoming a lawyer’ because of Castro.
If nominated to the nation’s high court by Trump and confirmed by the Senate, the mother of three daughters would be the second Latino justice to ever serve.
She served on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for less than a year after being appointed by Trump and confirmed by the Senate on an 80-15 vote
Prior to that she also spent less than a year in her previous position as the first Latina and Cuban American to serve on the Florida Supreme Court.
Last week, she voted in the majority in a ruling that barred hundreds of thousands of Florida felons who have served their time from voting unless they pay fees and fines owed to the state.
This decision could have a major impact on the presidential race as Florida is often won by a candidate by only razor-thin margins.
‘Florida’s felon re-enfranchisement scheme is constitutional,’ Lagoa wrote in a 20-page concurrence, according to USA Today.
‘It falls to the citizens of the state of Florida and their elected state legislators, not to federal judges, to make any additional changes to it.’
In 2000 Lagoa was one of a dozen mostly pro bono lawyers who represented the Miami family of Elián González, a Cuban citizen who became embroiled in a heated international custody and immigration controversy.
In 2016 while in the Florida Third District Court of Appeal, she wrote an opinion reversing the conviction of Adonis Losada, a former Univision comic actor sentenced to 153 years in prison for collecting child porn.
She ruled that a Miami-Dade judge erred in not allowing Losada to defend himself at trial.
That same month she became unpopular with free press advocates when she was one of three judges who allowed a Miami judge to close a courtroom to the public for a key hearing in a high-profile murder case.
They ruled that publicity surrounding the machete murder of a student in Homestead might unfairly sway jurors at a future trial.
She is is a member of the conservative Federalist Society, which stresses that judges should ‘say what the law is, not what it should be.’
She is married to lawyer Paul C. Huck Jr., and her father-in-law is United States District Judge Paul Huck.
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