Hillary Clinton called on Senate Republicans “to do their jobs” and hold hearings on President Barack Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court in a sweeping address Monday afternoon.
“I’m adding my voice to the chorus asking Sen. Grassley to step up and do his job,” she said of Iowa Sen. Charles E. Grassley, who faced protests in his home state Monday. She also singled out vulnerable Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, who’s facing a rematch from former Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold. “Russ Feingold is a high priority, not just for Wisconsin, but for America,” Clinton said. The Republican Party’s reluctance to hold confirmation hearings, Clinton said, is a symptom of what has given rise to the presidential campaigns of Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
“Donald Trump didn’t come out of nowhere,” she said. “What the Republicans have sown with their extremist tactics they are now reaping with Trump’s candidacy,” she said. Making a general election pitch, Clinton asked voters to make the Supreme Court the most important election issue, suggesting that the next president may need to make several court appointments. “You should care about who wins the presidency and who appoints the next Supreme Court justices,” Clinton said.
Clinton would start collecting names for possible judgeship appointees during a general election campaign, she said.
Everything You Need to Know About the Supreme Court Battle
Asked about her own criteria, Clinton said, “I’m not going to second guess the president’s choice.” She acknowledged the political calculus of nominating a judge whom conservatives, including Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, had previously praised. But if making her own nominations, she said, she would like to see justices with more diverse life experiences, rather than a homogenous bench of former law clerks. Clinton’s speech comes ahead of Wisconsin’s April 5 primary, where nearly 100 delegates are up for grabs. On the heels of sweeping victories in Alaska, Hawaii and Washington on Saturday night , the Sanders campaign on a Monday press call continued to make the case that they have a viable path to victory. The campaign even suggested they may have superdelegates in their corner whose allegiance has not yet been made public. Campaign manager Jeff Weaver declined to provide specifics.
Hillary for America chief strategist Joel Benenson held his own press call later Monday arguing there’s “not enough real estate left for Sanders” to close the gap in pledged delegates. Making the case that the court — and who makes appointments to it — should be foremost on voters’ minds this year, Clinton launched what sounded like a thinly veiled attack at Sanders. “Our next president has to break down all barriers, not just some of them,” Clinton said.
Speaking to Sanders’ signature issue — campaign finance reform —Clinton said she agrees with high court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg that Citizens United is the decision she would most like to see overturned. If the court cannot overturn it, Clinton said, she would pursue a constitutional amendment.
Clinton’s message, however, was that the ideological bent of the court is an even bigger issue. “A lot of Americans are concerned about money in politics,” she said. But justices, Clinton continued, “are not making decisions based on campaign contributions.”
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