Former Vice President Joe Biden on Sept. 27 mounted an attack on President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, arguing that Judge Amy Coney Barrett would tip the balance of the court to eliminate the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
“President Trump sees a chance to fulfill his explicit mission to steal away the vital protections of the ACA from countless families who have come to rely on them for their health, their financial security, and the lives of those they love,” Biden said at an event in Wilmington, Delaware. “It should come as no surprise that President Trump would nominate Judge Amy Coney Barrett.”
“She has a written track record disagreeing adamantly with the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the ACA. In fact, she publicly criticized Chief Justice Roberts’ opinion upholding the law eight years ago.”
Biden’s remarks indicate that Barrett’s opposition to the court’s handling of Obamacare will be the central theme of the campaign against the judge’s confirmation to the nation’s highest court.
The Trump campaign didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. The president wrote on Twitter on Sept. 27 that “Obamacare will be replaced with a MUCH better, and FAR cheaper, alternative if it is terminated in the Supreme Court. Would be a big WIN for the USA!”
Roberts’s opinion treated Obamacare’s individual mandate penalty as a tax, which preserved the legislation. In a 2017 article, Barrett argued that if Roberts treated the mandate as it was described in the legislation, the law would be invalidated.
“Chief Justice Roberts pushed the Affordable Care Act beyond its plausible meaning to save the statute. 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,” Barrett wrote. “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.”
The Trump administration is currently challenging the ACA specifically via the individual mandate. In a brief for the Supreme Court, the Justice Department (DOJ) argued that since Congress eliminated the penalty from the ACA, the entire legislation should be deemed void.
“The entire ACA thus must fall with the individual mandate, though the scope of relief entered in this case should be limited to provisions shown to injure the plaintiffs,” the DOJ stated.
In his remarks on Sept. 27, Biden dovetailed his criticism of Barrett over Obamacare with his main line of attack on Trump—the president’s handling of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic. The Democratic presidential nominee argued that the current health crisis isn’t the time to eliminate the ACA.
“Complications from COVID-19, like lung scarring and heart damage, could become the next flood of preexisting conditions used as an excuse to deny coverage to millions,” Biden said. “The American people understand the urgency of this moment. They are already voting in droves because they know that their health care hangs in the balance.”
Biden also listed a number of other issues that could be transformed through the Supreme Court, including abortion, immigration, and collective bargaining rights.
Trump nominated Barrett during a ceremony at the White House on Sept. 26. If confirmed, she would fill the seat vacated by the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Republicans are on track to confirm Barrett before the election.
Biden on Sept. 27 reiterated his opposition to confirming the nominee before the election.
“As I’ve said before, if the people choose Donald Trump, then the Senate should give his nominee a hearing and a vote,” Biden said. “But if the people choose me, President Trump’s nomination should be withdrawn.”