Biden blasts plan to push for Supreme Court nominee ahead of vote

PHILADELPHIA/WASHINGTON • Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has urged Senate Republicans not to vote on any candidate nominated to the US Supreme Court as the November election nears, calling President Donald Trump's plan an "exercise of raw political power".

A second Senate Republican on Sunday voiced objections to Mr Trump's plan for a quick vote on a replacement to liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died last Friday. Such an appointment by the President, if approved by the Senate, would cement a 6-3 conservative majority that could influence American law and life for decades.

"Voters of this country should be heard... they're the ones who this Constitution envisions should decide who has the power to make this appointment," Mr Biden, who leads Mr Trump in national opinion polls, said in Philadelphia.

"To jam this nomination through the Senate is just an exercise of raw political power."

Mr Biden said that if he wins the Nov 3 election, he should have the chance to nominate the next Supreme Court justice.

The former vice-president also rejected the idea of releasing the names of potential nominees, saying that doing so, as Mr Trump did, could improperly influence those candidates' decisions in their current court roles as well as subject them to "unrelenting political attacks".

And he reiterated his pledge to nominate an African-American woman to the court, which would be a historic first, if he has the opportunity.

Earlier on Sunday, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said she did not support Mr Trump's plan to move fast on filling the seat, becoming the second of the 53 Republicans in the 100-seat chamber to object publicly following Justice Ginsburg's death.

Last Saturday, Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine said the presidential election winner should pick the nominee.

Senator Lamar Alexander, another moderate Republican, said in a statement he did not object to a vote, adding: "No one should be surprised that a Republican Senate majority would vote on a Republican president's Supreme Court nomination, even during a presidential election year."

A majority of Americans - some 62 per cent including many Republicans - told a Reuters/Ipsos poll that they thought the winner of the November election should get to nominate a justice to fill the vacancy.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 22, 2020, with the headline 'Biden blasts plan to push for Supreme Court nominee ahead of vote'. Print Edition | Subscribe