LEWES, Del. — Today, U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, joined Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace to discuss the legacy of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the nomination process.

“[Justice Ginsburg] spent 27 years on our country's highest court as a towering figure, a trailblazer, somebody who fought for gender equity, and I’ll remind you her dying wish dictated to her granddaughter as she passed on Rosh Hashanah was that the voters should choose the next president, the next president should choose her successor,” said Senator Coons. “That's because she understood deeply our Constitution and the significance of the Supreme Court and its legitimacy. For the Republican majority just 44 days before the next presidential election to rush through a new Justice in a partisan confirmation process will further divide our country, will further challenge the legitimacy of the court, and I think would dishonor Justice Ginsburg’s legacy.”

On discussions by Republicans to nominate and confirm a Supreme Court Justice before the 2021 inauguration, Senator Coons added, “We are already divided enough, Chris, and there are already enough important issues on the ballot this November. Health care is on the ballot . . . [T]he Supreme Court is hearing a landmark decision just a week after the election in which President Trump and 18 Republican states attorneys general are trying to take away health care from a hundred million Americans in the midst of a pandemic, and there are 6 million Americans who have been infected, meaning they may have new pre-existing conditions.”

Full audio and video available here

Q: Senator, what's wrong with President Trump and the Senate going ahead and confirming a replacement for Ruth Bader Ginsburg? I understand you won't like their choice, but there's nothing in the Constitution that curtails their power even if it's just six weeks before the election.

Sen. Coons: Well, Chris, thanks for a chance to be on with you again. First, we should start by, if I can, offering my condolences to the family of the loved ones of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She spent 27 years on our country's highest court as a towering figure, a trailblazer, somebody who fought for gender equity, and I’ll remind you her dying wish dictated to her granddaughter as she passed on Rosh Hashanah was that the voters should choose the next president, the next president should choose her successor. That's because she understood deeply our Constitution and the significance of the Supreme Court and its legitimacy. For the Republican majority just 44 days before the next presidential election to rush through a new Justice in a partisan confirmation process will further divide our country, will further challenge the legitimacy of the court, and I think would dishonor Justice Ginsburg’s legacy.

Q: But, in 2016 when President Obama nominated Merrick Garland, as we just discussed with Tom Cotton, to the court and Republicans decided to block it, you were outraged. You wrote this: "Now all 100 members of the Senate must do our jobs by providing advice and consent on the president's nominee." You wanted the Senate to go ahead and vote on Merrick Garland. I understand nine months is longer than six weeks, but sir, the principle is the same. 

Sen. Coons: Here's two key differences, if I might, Chris. First, in 25 states across our country, half of our states, Americans are already voting for the next president. We are not ten months or nine months away from an election, we are just 44 days from an election and an election where in half our states votes are already being cast. Second, the Republican majority set this new precedent. They set it in 2016, they fought hard for it. In fact the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Lindsey Graham restated it in 2018, so if they were going to set a new precedent that in an election year, there shouldn't be a hearing, meetings, votes, they should live by it. One of my friends, my colleague Senator Murkowski said in announcing that she would oppose any vote on a nominee before the next president is sworn in. Fair is fair, and I frankly think the Republican majority should live with the precedent they set in 2016. 

Q: Alright, let's get to the bottom line here because some people would say this is really about power, who has the votes much more than it is about principle. If President Trump goes ahead, as he says he will, and nominates someone to the court and if the Senate, as Senator McConnell says it will, goes ahead and decides to hold a confirmation hearing and then to hold a final confirmation vote, bottom line, is there anything Democrats can do to stop it? 

Sen. Coons: Well, Chris, it shouldn't come to that, and so I’ve been appealing personally to my colleagues, Republicans and independents, to reflect on how this will impact the Senate, the Supreme Court, its legitimacy. We are already divided enough, Chris, and there are already enough important issues on the ballot this November. Health care is on the ballot. As you just said with Senator Cotton in your previous interview, the Supreme Court is hearing a landmark decision just a week after the election in which President Trump and 18 Republican states attorneys general are trying to take away health care from a hundred million Americans in the midst of a pandemic, and there are 6 million Americans who have been infected, meaning they may have new pre-existing conditions. And I’ll remind you a key element of the Affordable Care Act is gender equity.

Q: Senator, I understand all of that, I asked you a direct question though, is there anything Democrats can do to stop it? 

Sen. Coons: Well, the Republican majority is going to be responsible for what we do in the next 44 days. We ought to be delivering relief from this pandemic. We ought to be taking up and voting on a package that will help schools open safely and support more vaccine research and support state and local governments. Mitch McConnell hasn't done that work in the six months since we last passed a relief package. That's what we should be doing, not rushing through a nominee.

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