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Trump pushed for Barrett confirmation "so she could help him win" election, Senator Chris Coons says

Sen. Coons on GOP "voter suppression" efforts
Senator Chris Coons: "Republicans have sharpened their tools for voter suppression" in 2020 election 14:45

Democratic Senator Chris Coons is calling for newly-appointed Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett to recuse herself from a recent slew of cases regarding voting rules in certain battleground states

The Delaware lawmaker questioned Barrett's ability to make impartial decisions in those cases, saying in an interview on CBSN Thursday that President Trump "pointedly and publicly" urged Republicans to push through her confirmation "so she could help him with the election." 

Barrett was confirmed to fill the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's seat in a mostly party-line vote on Monday, with Republican Senator Susan Collins siding with Democrats. The confirmation vote came just eight days before Election Day, after millions of Americans had already cast early ballots.

"They raced through a nominee, a highly partisan nominee, in just a few weeks before an election," Coons said. "Republicans, I'll remind you, four years ago spent 10 months saying 'Oh, we couldn't possibly seat a Supreme Court justice during an election year.'"

Coons vehemently opposed Barrett's confirmation, arguing that she would be "a conservative judicial activist… farther to the right than even Justice Scalia."

"Long-settled cases that protect issues that are of top-of-mind for Americans — like health care and privacy and reproductive rights, yes, but also areas like labor rights, consumer protection, environmental protection, criminal defense rights — all of these are at risk now," he said.

Barrett was the first Supreme Court nominee in at least 150 years to have been confirmed on a recorded vote with not a single vote of support from the minority party — in this case, Democrats.

Coons warned that Americans may not grasp "just how conservative the entire federal judiciary has now become after four years of activism by President Trump."

"The Federalist Society and the Trump White House moved into high gear and jammed through more conservative, young and, in more than a dozen cases, demonstrably unqualified federal judges than any in history," he said, adding that the average age of a Trump-appointed judge is 48.

He said Republicans' "obstruction" of President Obama's judicial appointments have "led to federal courts that are now filled with young, out-of-the-mainstream conservative judges who will be on these courts for a generation."

"It's not just these justices that have been put on the Supreme Court, it's dozens and dozens of circuit court and district court judges who were deemed unqualified to serve by the American Bar Association or who had disturbing, extremist views," Coons said.

Asked if he would support "court packing" under a Biden presidency — a highly controversial campaign issue used by Republicans hoping to defend the White House — Coons answered he preferred the term "rebalancing the courts."

"I frankly think it's time for us to take a step back and have a bipartisan commission, as Joe Biden is suggesting, to look hard at how we preserve the independence of our courts and rebalance them," he said.

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