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Biden says voters won't accept GOP 'abuse of power' in pushing Barrett's confirmation

By Laura King, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON - Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden declared Sunday that voters "are not going to stand for this abuse of power" if President Donald Trump's Senate Republican allies push through the election-season confirmation of conservative judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.

As Senate Republicans vowed to swiftly secure Barrett's confirmation, their Democratic counterparts acknowledged they had little hope of blocking Trump's choice - but made it clear they wanted the president and Republicans who back him to pay a price at the polls.

With nationwide polls suggesting that a majority of voters would prefer that the next president choose the high court nominee, Biden and his backers have been intensifying warnings that a Supreme Court bolstered by a third Trump-appointed justice would imperil health care for millions of Americans amid an unprecedented public health crisis, the coronavirus outbreak.

"There's no mystery about what's happening here," Biden said in remarks delivered in his home state, Delaware. If the high court's conservative majority is cemented with Barrett's ascension, he said, Republicans "see an opportunity to overturn the Affordable Care Act on their way out the door."

Trump again cheered the prospect of the high court striking down the ACA, known as Obamacare, repeating his frequent contention - so far unproven - that he has a superior health care plan waiting in the wings.

"Obamacare will be replaced with a MUCH better, and FAR cheaper, alternative if it is terminated in the Supreme Court," Trump, who spent a cloudy Sunday at his Virginia golf property, wrote on Twitter. "Would be a big WIN for the USA!"

Democrats have repeatedly denounced as hypocritical the Senate plan to hurry through a replacement for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Sept. 18, in light of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's refusal to even give a hearing to then-President Obama's nominee, Merrick Garland, in 2016. That vacancy occurred nearly nine months before the election.

The Democratic Senate minority whip, Dick Durbin of Illinois, voiced resignation that his party's Senate minority could not force Republicans to honor the precedent against filling the seat so soon before an election. Voting has already begun in dozens of states.


"We could slow it down perhaps a matter of hours, maybe days at the most, but we can't stop the outcome," Durbin said on ABC's "This Week," speaking of Barrett's nomination by Trump. "What we should do is to address this now respectfully."

Senate Democrats suggested that, rather than concentrating political firepower on a fruitless attempt to block Barrett, they would instead seek to hold her to account on whether she would take Trump's side in a disputed election outcome. Trump, who has consistently sought to cast doubt on the election's fairness, has said repeatedly that the court seat needs to be filled in the event of a fight that goes to the high court.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press," said if Barrett was confirmed, she should agree to stay out of any election fray that makes its way to the Supreme Court.

"One of the things I want to ask her is will she recuse herself ... in terms of any election issues that come before us," said Booker, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Appearing on the same program, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), also a member of the Judiciary Committee, predicted that the confirmation hearing would "likely get done sometime in the month of October," prior to the election.

"It doesn't need to take more time than it needs to take," he said.

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