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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4:01 p.m. ET, September 27, 2020

Biden and Trump won't shake hands at the debate because of coronavirus

From CNN's Arlette Saenz

Peter Eyre, senior advisor for the Commission on Presidential Debates, has provided more details for how Tuesday night’s debate between President Trump and Joe Biden will play out.

There will be no handshake between Trump and Biden or with the moderator, Chris Wallace, due to coronavirus concerns. Once on stage, the three men will not wear masks.

Biden and Trump will stand on the right side of the stage looking at the audience, while the former vice president will be on the left. Wallace will be seated at a desk facing the two candidates.  

There are no opening statements and President Trump will receive the first question.

3:59 p.m. ET, September 27, 2020

What you need to know about Trump's SCOTUS pick and the confirmation process

President Trump announced yesterday he's nominating Judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Supreme Court seat.

Republicans, who control the Senate, have outlined a swift confirmation process, but many Democrats say the vacancy shouldn't be filled until after Election Day.

Here's where things stand now:

  • About Barrett: Barrett — who is currently a judge on the 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals and once served as a former law clerk to the late right-wing beacon Justice Antonin Scalia — will certainly tilt the high court further rightward for years to come. She has demonstrated her conservative bona fides on Second Amendment gun rights, immigration and abortion. You can read more about her writings here.
  • The GOP's timeline: Senate Judiciary Chair Lindsey Graham said confirmation hearings for Barrett would begin on Oct. 12, and the committee is set to hold a committee vote to send her nomination before the entire chamber on Oct. 22. A vote in the full Senate could come before election day.
  • Why Democrats are bringing up health care: Many Democratic lawmakers have responded to Trump's nominee and Republicans' move to quickly confirm her by brining up concerns about the Affordable Care Act. That's because the Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments just after the November election in a case about the Affordable Care Act — and if Republicans stick to their swift confirmation timeline, Barrett could be seated on the bench for that case. 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.
3:35 p.m. ET, September 27, 2020

Trump and Biden will debate Tuesday. Here's what we know about the event.

The presidential debates are around the corner, with Democratic nominee Joe Biden and President  Trump set to square off for the first time on stage next Tuesday.

All debates are scheduled to take place from 9 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. ET on their respective dates without commercial breaks.

Here's what we know about the first debate:

  • Moderator: Fox News' Chris Wallace
  • Location: Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio.
  • Key topics: Wallace selected the following topics for the first debate: "The Trump and Biden Records," "The Supreme Court," "Covid-19," "The Economy," "Race and Violence in our Cities" and "The Integrity of the Election"
  • Format: Each segment will last about 15 minutes, and the candidates will have two minutes to respond after the moderator opens each segment with a question. Wallace will then use the rest of the time in the segment to facilitate further discussion on the topic, according to the commission.
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.