The latest on the 2020 election and SCOTUS battle

By Meg Wagner and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 5:38 PM ET, Sun September 27, 2020
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2:48 p.m. ET, September 27, 2020

Senate Judiciary Democrats call for Barrett to recuse herself from election-related cases if confirmed

From CNN's Daniella Mora, Nick Neville and Ali Main

President Trump nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court on Saturday. Some Senate Democrats on the Judiciary Committee have called for Barrett to recuse herself from any cases related to the presidential election if she is confirmed.
President Trump nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court on Saturday. Some Senate Democrats on the Judiciary Committee have called for Barrett to recuse herself from any cases related to the presidential election if she is confirmed. Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images

In the wake of President Trump's nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, some Senate Democrats on the Judiciary Committee have called for Barrett to recuse herself from any cases related to the presidential election if she is confirmed.

On ABC's "This Week," Democratic Whip Dick Durbin said Barrett's recusal in such cases "would evidence the fact that she wants to be fair in addressing this."

"Why? Because this president has been outspoken and outrageous. To think that he would not accept the verdict of the election and that he would make it clear that he's filling this vacancy on the Supreme Court to make sure it tips his way if there's any election contest, that's an outrage. No president has ever said that in our nation's history," Durbin said.

On Wednesday, President Trump refused to tell reporters whether he would agree to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses to Joe Biden and, in recent days, he has continued to claim the only way he will lose the election is if Democrats cheat, casting further doubt on whether he will accept the results.

Sen. Cory Booker said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that he would ask Barrett if she would recuse herself from election-related cases when he meets with her ahead of her confirmation hearing.

"If she does not recuse herself, I fear that the court will be further delegitimized," Booker said, also mentioning concerns about the President's intentions.

Additionally, when asked about the possibility of Senate Democrats ending the filibuster or expanding the Supreme Court should they retake the majority, Durbin said a conversation about Senate rules is on the table. 

“Well, I can say a conversation about the future of the Senate rules is on the table and I'm part of it,” Durbin said. “And the reason is this. We have seen under Mitch McConnell the destruction and denigration of the United States Senate.”

2:24 p.m. ET, September 27, 2020

What Trump and Biden campaign events have looked like so far

From CNN's Shawna Mizelle

As the country grapples with more than 200,000 deaths from coronavirus, the pandemic has become a defining campaign issue in the battle for the presidency between President Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

President Trump has been holding rallies with thousands of attendees— which are sometimes indoors, physical distancing is not required and masks are optional.

Biden, however, hasn't held a rally since March. Instead, he has held smaller in-person events like roundtables that follow Covid-19 safety and prevention protocols. However, the Democratic presidential nominee announced on Sunday that he will take a campaign trip through Ohio and Pennsylvania following the upcoming debate.

Here's a look at how the two candidates' events have compared:

Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Fayetteville Regional Airport, in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Fayetteville Regional Airport, in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Evan Vucci/AP

Biden speaks at an event in Pittsburgh on August 31.
Biden speaks at an event in Pittsburgh on August 31. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Supporters of President Donald Trump attend a campaign rally in Bemidji, Minnesota, on September 18.
Supporters of President Donald Trump attend a campaign rally in Bemidji, Minnesota, on September 18. Tom Brenner/Reuters

Biden speaks with supporters from a distance after he met with labor leaders in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, on September 7.
Biden speaks with supporters from a distance after he met with labor leaders in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, on September 7. Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

12:55 p.m. ET, September 27, 2020

Why Democrats keep mentioning the Affordable Care Act following Trump's SCOTUS pick

Many Democratic lawmakers have responded to President Trump's decision to nominate Amy Coney Barrett to the US Supreme Court by bringing up health care and the Affordable Care Act.

Moments ago, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said Republicans seeking to quickly confirm Barrett to the nation's highest court want to "overturn the Affordable Care Act." And last night, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer told his fellow senators that a vote to confirm Barrett "is a vote to strike down the Affordable Care Act"

Here's why they're focusing on health care: The Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments just after the November election in a case about the Affordable Care Act.

Senate Republicans have indicated they may vote to confirm Barrett before Election Day — meaning she could be seated on the bench for that case.

What Barrett has said about the Affordable Care Act: In an early 2017 law review essay reviewing a book related to the Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act, Barrett criticized Chief Justice John Roberts' rationale that saved the law in 2012.

"Chief Justice Roberts pushed the Affordable Care Act beyond its plausible meaning to save the statute," Barrett wrote. "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."

1:20 p.m. ET, September 27, 2020

Biden: The Senate "must not act on this nomination"

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden gives a speech on September 27 in Wilmington, Delaware.
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden gives a speech on September 27 in Wilmington, Delaware. Alex Wong/Getty Images

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden urged the Senate not to act on President Trump's Supreme Court nomination because the 2020 election — which includes mail-in ballots already sent out in some places — is already underway.

"Never before in our nation's history has a Supreme Court justice been nominated and installed while a presidential election is already underway," Biden said.

President Trump yesterday nominated Amy Coney Barrett to fill the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Supreme Court seat. Senate Republicans have outlined a timeline to confirm the nomination before Election Day.

"There are senate Republicans out there who know in their hearts that if they shut out the voices of those during a voting period, during an election, closing the door on American democracy thereafter," Biden said while speaking in Delaware today.

He continued:

"The Senate has to stand strong for a democracy. They must not act on this nomination until the American people finish the process they've already begun, of selecting their president and their Congress."
12:20 p.m. ET, September 27, 2020

Biden: Republicans want to "overturn the Affordable Care Act" with this SCOTUS pick

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said President Trump's nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court and Senate Republicans' promise to quickly confirm her is about overturning the Affordable Care Act.

Biden said Republicans are going against their own standards, which they set when they refused to hold a hearing for former President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee in 2016 because it was an election year.

"All that matters is they see an opportunity to overturn the Affordable Care Act on their way out the door," Biden said.

He continued:

"It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter what the American people want. President Trump sees a chance to fulfill his explicit mission — steal away the vital protection of the ACA for countless families who have come to rely on them for their health, their financial security, the lives of those they love."

What this is about: Senate Republicans have outlined a possible confirmation hearing for Barrett that could have her confirmed before Election Day.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments just after the election in a case about the Affordable Care Act. The case is brought by a coalition of Republican state attorneys general and the Trump administration, who argue the law's individual mandate is unconstitutional, and the entire law must fall.

1:24 p.m. ET, September 27, 2020

Some Senate Democrats say they will meet with Barrett

From Ali Main, Daniella Mora and Nick Neville

Judge Amy Coney Barrett speaks after being nominated to the US Supreme Court by President Donald Trump on September 26 in Washington, DC.
Judge Amy Coney Barrett speaks after being nominated to the US Supreme Court by President Donald Trump on September 26 in Washington, DC. Oliver Douliery/AFP/Getty Images

Following President Trump's formal nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, more Senate Democrats weighed in on whether they would be willing to meet with the nominee, despite widespread disapproval within their party of the expedited confirmation process.

Some Democratic senators, including Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Mazie Hirono, have said they won't meet with Barrett. 

Although he has said he would not vote to confirm a Supreme Court justice before Election Day, Sen. Joe Manchin, the only Democrat who voted to confirm Justice Brett Kavanaugh, told CNN's Jake Tapper on Sunday he would meet with the judge, saying he thinks the "greatest responsibility" of a US senator is to "hear all sides of whatever the debate might be" and noting it is the duty of the Senate to "meet and confirm" with presidential nominees.

Manchin specifically mentioned that he would like to discuss the Affordable Care Act with Barrett.

"How do I explain to 800,000 that their pre-existing condition is not going to be covered, that they're not going to have the ability to even buy insurance?" the West Virginia Democrat asked.

Sens. Cory Booker and Chris Coons, both members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, also intend to meet with Barrett.

Booker said on NBC's "Meet the Press" it's his "spirit" to sit down and have conversations with people. Coons told CBS's "Face the Nation" that he would meet with the nominee either in-person or by phone and that he would also press her on the ACA.

Sen. Dick Durbin, the Democratic Whip and also a Judiciary Committee member, reiterated on ABC's "This Week" that he would meet with Barrett, as he told CNN's Michael Smerconish on Saturday.

"I've met with every Supreme Court nominee since I've been in the Senate, I will extend that courtesy, if she requests it, for at least a socially distanced safe meeting, perhaps over the phone," Durbin explained.

1:19 p.m. ET, September 27, 2020

NOW: Joe Biden speaks about the US Supreme Court

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden gives a speech on September 27 in Wilmington, Delaware.
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden gives a speech on September 27 in Wilmington, Delaware. Andrew Harnik/AP

Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden is now delivering remarks on the US Supreme Court from Wilmington, Delaware this afternoon.

The former Vice President had been expected to be largely out of the public eye this weekend as he prepares for Tuesday’s debate. However, the campaign announced this event early Sunday morning. 

Last night, shortly after President Trump announced he was nominating Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court, Biden released a statement focused on health care and protecting the Affordable Care Act.

“Today, President Trump has nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett as the successor to Justice Ginsburg’s seat. She has a written track record of disagreeing with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision upholding the Affordable Care Act. She critiqued Chief Justice John Roberts’ majority opinion upholding the law in 2012,” Biden said.

He added that the Senate should not act on the vacancy until after the American people select their next president. 

Remember: Senate Republicans have outlined a possible confirmation hearing for Barrett that could have her confirmed before Election Day.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments just after the election in a case about the Affordable Care Act. The case is brought by a coalition of Republican state attorneys general and the Trump administration, who argue the law's individual mandate is unconstitutional, and the entire law must fall.

1:14 p.m. ET, September 27, 2020

White House chief of staff doubles down on attacks on FBI director and voter fraud investigation

From CNN's Sarah Westwood

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows Sunday again criticized FBI Director Chris Wray. He said that his “problem” with Wray, who the White House has criticized recently, is that Wray has done so little to investigate voter fraud – and he declined to affirm President Trump’s confidence in the director. 

“To suggest that there is a process that is full of integrity is trying to make a verdict before you’ve actually heard the case,” Meadows told CBS’ “Face the Nation,” referring to Wray’s testimony on Capitol Hill denying widespread voter fraud. Meadows first criticized the comments Friday. 

“That’s my problem with Director Wray. They need to investigate it, and make sure that the voting populace — makes sure that their vote counts and no one else’s does,” Wray said Sunday. 

Meadows declined to offer the President’s confidence in the FBI director, while noting Trump will consider replacing those in whom he does lose confidence. CNN has reported Trump is highly unlikely to dismiss Wray before the election.

“Well, I mean, as we look at this, we want to make sure he’s doing his job. There are different degrees of confidence in different Cabinet members. Certainly, he's still there,” Meadows said. “The minute the President loses confidence in any of his Cabinet members — they serve at his pleasure — he will certainly look at replacing them.”

The FBI has not commented on Meadows’ comments.

What is this about: Wray during his testimony last week did say the FBI does investigate voter fraud when there are accusations.

“Well, senator, I think what I would say is this. We take all election related threats seriously, whether it's voter fraud, voter suppression, whether it's in person, whether it's by mail, and our role is to investigate the threat actors.
Now, we have not seen, historically, any kind of coordinated national voter fraud effort in a major election, whether it's by mail or--or otherwise. We have seen voter fraud at the local level from time to time and so my comment should, in no way, be construed as minimizing how seriously we take our responsibility to investigate such incidents or the potential impact those things could have at the local level. So, it's in our radar.
Certainly to change a—a federal election outcome by mounting that kind of fraud at scale would be a major challenge for an adversary, but people should make no mistake, we're vigilant as to the threat and watching it carefully.”
11:06 a.m. ET, September 27, 2020

Here's the timeline for Barrett's Senate confirmation, according to the Judiciary Chair

From CNN's Ali Main

Rachel Malehorn via AP
Rachel Malehorn via AP

Senate Judiciary Chair Lindsey Graham this morning clarified his committee's timeline to address the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.

Graham said in an interview with Fox Business's Maria Bartiromo that confirmation hearings for Barrett would begin on Oct. 12 with an introduction day.

After that, there will be two days of questioning, and on Oct. 15th, the committee will begin its markup.

They will hold a committee vote to send her nomination before the entire chamber on Oct. 22.

Last night on Fox News, Graham said the committee would vote on Barrett's nomination by Oct. 26.