“We have tremendous unity in the party,” Trump said of his Supreme Court pick during a campaign rally in Newport News, Virginia, on Friday night, adding that getting his nominee confirmed would be a “great victory” ahead of November 3. “They say the biggest thing you can do (as president) is the appointment of judges, but especially the appointment of Supreme Court justices. That’s the single biggest thing a president can do, because it sets the tone of the country for 40 years, 50 years.”
A consequential pick for the high court
While he was stirring more chaos, Ginsburg’s death created another welcome distraction for Trump — a chance to remind conservatives, some of whom may have soured on the President during the pandemic, the redeeming power of a Trump White House: his appointment of an unprecedented number of federal judges in his first term.
At the same time, it is difficult to decipher the effect that the high court pick will have on the presidential race, because the anger about Republicans’ rush to confirm a replacement for Ginsburg has also electrified Democrats and led to a flood of donations to progressive groups and candidates.
Many Democrats view Trump’s expected choice of Barrett, whom he appointed to the 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals, as a direct rebuke to the legacy of Ginsburg, a liberal icon and staunch defender of abortion rights.
Based on Barrett’s judicial philosophy and her past writings, Democrats have argued this week that if she is named to the court — solidifying a 6-3 conservative majority — she will likely have a hand in rolling back abortion rights and striking down the Affordable Care Act.
“What matters most is that health care is on the ballot and is in front of the Supreme Court,” Delaware Sen. Chris Coons, a Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, noting that the health care law protects those seeking health insurance from discrimination based on pre-existing conditions — which will now include health complications for those who contracted Covid-19.
“We know that Judge Barrett has made statements disparaging the Affordable Care Act, disparaging the decision that upheld the Affordable Care Act,” Coons said during an interview on “The Situation Room” Friday evening, “and I think this is a significant concern for millions of average Americans in the middle of a pandemic that doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon.”
But Republican senators and activists who have defended Barrett, the mother of seven children, have accused Democrats of targeting her because of her Catholic faith. Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein angered Barrett’s supporters in 2017 when she challenged Barrett during her confirmation hearings for her seat on the 7th Circuit by alluding to her faith and stating that the “dogma lives loudly within you.”
Barrett met with Trump earlier this week and was widely viewed as one of his top contenders for the Supreme Court vacancy in 2018, when Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement. The President ultimately chose Brett Kavanaugh as Kennedy’s replacement.
Trump’s attacks on democracy
After the President refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power this week, he continued to insist that the presidential election is “rigged” and that mail-in ballots are a “scam.”
That statement drew a swift rebuke from Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows, who disputed Wray’s assertion during an appearance on “CBS This Morning” on Friday.
“With all due respect to Director Wray, he has a hard time finding emails in his own FBI, let alone figuring out whether there’s any kind of voter fraud,” Meadows said. “This is a very different case. The rules are being changed.”
“Perhaps he needs to get involved on the ground and he would change his testimony on Capitol Hill,” Meadows added.
“We’re not going to lose this except if they cheat, that’s the way I look at it,” Trump said, repeating baseless claims about “mischief” — now a cornerstone of his stump speech — meant to sow more distrust in an election that polls currently show him losing.
One Democrat who seemed unfazed by Trump’s refusal to unequivocally commit to a peaceful transfer of power was Biden, who said Friday the American people “aren’t going to be shut down in this election.”
“This is a typical Trump distraction, trying to make everybody wonder whether or not the election will be legit and whether or not absentee ballots matter while he is writing his absentee ballot out,” Biden told MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle.
“Every vote in this country is going to be heard and they will not be stopped. I’m confident that all of the irresponsible, outrageous attacks on voting, we’ll have an election in this country as we always have had. And he’ll leave.”