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Biden Responds To Trump Court Pick: 'Health Care Is On The Ballot'

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, pictured on Sept. 15, said in a statement Saturday that the next president should fill the Supreme Court vacancy.
Drew Angerer
Getty Images
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, pictured on Sept. 15, said in a statement Saturday that the next president should fill the Supreme Court vacancy.

In response to President Trump's nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court, Democratic nominee Joe Biden urged Democrats to vote in the presidential election to protect the Affordable Care Act.

"Vote like your health care is on the ballot — because it is," Biden tweeted.

Congressional Democrats have signaled that's how they are going to try and fight Barrett's nomination.

"The American people should make no mistake—a vote by any Senator for Judge Amy Coney Barrett is a vote to strike down the Affordable Care Act and eliminate protections for millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a statement on Saturday.

In his own longer statement, Biden noted that voting is already underway in the United States, and referenced health care and other issues important to progressives.

"They are voting because their health care hangs in the balance," he said. "They are voting because they worry about losing their right to vote or being expelled from the only country they have ever known. They are voting right now because they fear losing their collective bargaining rights. They are voting to demand that equal justice be guaranteed for all. They are voting because they don't want Roe v. Wade, which has been the law of the land for nearly half a century, to be overturned."

Barrett, a textualist, was critical of John Roberts' logic in upholding the ACA.

"Chief Justice Roberts pushed the Affordable Care Act beyond its plausible meaning to save the statute," Barrett wrote in 2017. "He construed the penalty imposed on those without health insurance as a tax, which permitted him to sustain the statute as a valid exercise of the taxing power; had he treated the payment as the statute did — as a penalty — he would have had to invalidate the statute as lying beyond Congress's commerce power."

On abortion, Barrett has said she expected the Supreme Court would uphold the core of Roe v. Wade, giving women the right to an abortion, but she said she thought it was likely that restrictions would be increased.

But that was before Trump was elected and before the court became majority conservative, so it's not clear how far Barrett would go exactly.

Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, argued in their statements that a Supreme Court nominee should be left to whoever wins the presidency.

"Americans across the country are already casting votes, and we will soon know the president and senators who will be sworn in next January," said Harris, who also serves on the Judiciary Committee, which is is responsible for the hearings of court nominees. "We must respect Americans' voices and allow the winners of the election to nominate and confirm the next Supreme Court Justice."

Democrats especially feel that way because Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., refused to even hold a hearing for then-President Barack Obama's pick to replace the late-Justice Antonin Scalia on the court. Scalia died in February 2016, many more months ahead of that election than this vacancy.

"Just yesterday, I paid my respects to the legendary Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who devoted her life to fighting for Equal Justice Under Law and a more fair and just world," Harris added in her statement. "Her passing is devastating, and it would be a travesty to replace her with a justice who is being selected to undo her legacy and erase everything she did for our country."

The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to begin Barrett's confirmation hearings on Oct. 12, an aide told NPR on Saturday.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Domenico Montanaro
Domenico Montanaro is NPR's senior political editor/correspondent. Based in Washington, D.C., his work appears on air and online delivering analysis of the political climate in Washington and campaigns. He also helps edit political coverage.