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27 Sep, 2020 20:09

‘Summon your CONSCIENCE’: Biden turns to moral argument to urge Republican senators to block Trump’s Supreme Court nominee

‘Summon your CONSCIENCE’: Biden turns to moral argument to urge Republican senators to block Trump’s Supreme Court nominee

Joe Biden has urged Senate Republicans to block the confirmation of Supreme Court justice nominee Amy Coney Barrett for moral reasons. There are no constitutional grounds by which he could challenge the appointment, however.

“I urge every senator to take a step back from the brink,” Biden said on Sunday in a speech in Wilmington, Delaware. “Take off the blinders of politics for just one critical moment. Stand up to the Constitution you swore to uphold.”

The Democratic presidential candidate made his comments a day after President Donald Trump nominated Barrett to fill the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg's seat on the US high court. Democrats have blasted Trump for trying to rush in a new lifetime appointment with early voting already under way in the November 3 election, especially after the Republican-controlled Senate refused to hold hearings on former President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nomination in 2016, which was made nearly nine months before that year's election.

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Biden slammed Trump’s “shattering of precedents,” accused him of throwing the nation into “chaos” and asked senators to “do right by the American people.”

Uphold your constitutional duty. Summon your conscience, stand up for the people, stand up for our cherished system of checks and balances.

But it was Biden himself who said just a week ago that it was the constitutional obligation of senators to provide their advice and consent to any president's judicial nominee. He said the Senate's refusal to do so in 2016 was “ridiculous,” but having made that decision four years ago, Republicans must abide by the precedent – in other words, repeat the ridiculous. 

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Republicans, such as Senator Mitt Romney, have argued that the clear precedent is to allow confirmation in an election year when voters gave control of the Senate and executive branch to the same party.

Yet, like Biden, Democratic commentators also appear to be focusing on a moral argument against confirming Barrett. At least four prominent anti-Trump writers all reacted to Barrett's nomination by saying that they would question the morality and impartiality of any judge who would accept the job from Trump “under these circumstances.”

Walter Shaub, former director of the US Office of Government Ethics, tweeted that Barrett's acceptance of the nomination shows “a disqualifying lack of character.” Author and Newsweek columnist Seth Abramson agreed, saying “no person of conscience would have accepted this nomination” from Trump under the current circumstances.

On Sunday, Biden painted a picture of doom and gloom if Barrett is confirmed, saying Obamacare would be eliminated and that 100 million Americans with pre-existing conditions would be denied healthcare coverage amid a global pandemic. 

He added that voters understand “if Donald Trump gets his way, they could lose the right to vote, the right to clean air and water, the right to equal pay for equal work.” He said workers could lose their collective-bargaining rights and that Dreamers could be “thrown out of the only country they've ever known,” while women “could lose the bedrock rights enshrined in Roe v Wade for 50 years.”

If all that's not enough, he suggested that the entire American system could crumble if Senate Republicans do not heed his call to block Barrett's confirmation. 

“There are Senate Republicans out there who know in their hearts that if they shut out the voices of those during a voting period, during an election, they're closing the door on American democracy thereafter,” he said.

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