Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Sunday lashed out against Republican efforts to push Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation through the Senate ahead of the Nov. 3 election.
During a press conference in Wilmington, Delaware, Biden warned Americans that their health care will be in jeopardy if Barrett is confirmed and the court gains a 6-3 conservative majority.
“It’s no mystery what is happening here: President Trump is trying to throw out the Affordable Care Act,” Biden said. “He’s been trying to do it for the last four years. The Republican Party has been trying to eliminate it for a decade.”
He continued: “Twice already the Supreme Court has upheld that law, the Affordable Care Act. ... Now, all of a sudden, this administration believes they’ve found a loophole in the tragedy of Justice Ginsburg’s death.”
President Donald Trump formally nominated Barrett on Saturday to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died earlier this month at age 87 from complications of cancer.
Democrats, including Biden, have condemned Republicans for their plans to push Barrett’s confirmation process through the Senate ahead of Election Day.
In 2016, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) blocked confirmation hearings for Merrick Garland, then-President Barack Obama’s pick to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia. McConnell had said the confirmation would be too close to the election and that whoever won the presidency should pick the nominee.
But just hours after Ginsburg died, McConnell reversed course and said Trump’s nominee would receive a vote on the Senate floor. Many of Trump’s Republican allies have fallen in line, eager to confirm Trump’s anti-abortion nominee.
Scalia died 10 months before the 2016 election. Barrett’s confirmation hearings are set to begin Oct. 12 ― less than three weeks from Election Day. What’s more, voters have already begun casting their ballots.
“Never before in our nation’s history has a Supreme Court Justice been nominated and installed while a presidential election is already underway,” Biden said Sunday. “It defies every precedent, every expectation of a nation where the people ... are sovereign and the rule of law reigns.”
In June, the Trump administration filed a brief asking the Supreme Court to overturn the Affordable Care Act, stating the entire federal statute “must fall.” The legal request was made as the coronavirus crisis continued to plague the country, with more than 100,000 deaths in the U.S. at the time.
More than 23 million people would lose their health care coverage should the Supreme Court rule against the ACA, according to an analysis published in June by the liberal-leaning think tank Center for American Progress.
“If [Trump] has his way, more than 100 million people with preexisting conditions like asthma, diabetes, and cancer could once again be denied coverage,” Biden said Sunday. “Complications from COVID-19, like lung scarring and heart damage, could become the next flood of preexisting conditions used as an excuse to deny coverage to millions.”
He called on Republican senators to stand up against McConnell and Trump, and oppose Barrett’s confirmation before the election results are in. He demanded Trump’s nomination be withdrawn should the Democratic nominee win.
“Uphold your constitutional duty,” Biden urged Republicans. “Summon your conscience. Stand up for the people. Stand up for our cherished system of checks and balances. Americans are watching.”
Watch Biden’s full remarks below: