Donald Trump’s decision to replace late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg ahead of the presidential election is an “abuse of power,” Democratic rival Joe Biden said.
Mr Trump has said he will appoint a woman next week to replace longtime liberal justice.
Mr Biden urged Republicans in the Senate to delay a confirmation vote.
Ginsburg, a liberal icon and feminist standard-bearer, died on Friday at the age of 87.
Democrats fear Republicans will vote to lock a decades-long conservative majority in the nation’s highest court.
The ideological balance of the nine-member court is crucial to its decisions on the most important questions of American law.
What did Biden say about Trump’s decision?
In a speech at the Constitutional Center in Philadelphia on Sunday, Biden said the president had “made it clear that it is about power, pure and simple.”
“The constitution of the United States gives Americans the opportunity to be heard – and their voice must be heard… they must say it clearly, they will not stand this abuse of power,” he said.
“I appeal to these Senate Republicans – please follow your conscience, let the people speak, quell the flames that have engulfed our country,” he said.
“Do not vote to confirm whoever is appointed under the circumstances created by President Trump and Senator McConnell. Do not go. ”
Two Republican senators, Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins, both supported a postponement of the vote until after the presidential election in November.
If they are joined by two more Republican senators, they could block or at least delay a confirmation vote, as Republicans only have a sixth majority in the Senate.
In the event of a tie, the US constitution allows Vice President Mike Pence to vote tied.
- Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death sparks political storm
- Obituary: Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Mr. Biden said if he wins the presidential election, Mr. Trump’s candidate should be removed. He said he would then consult with senators from both parties before making his choice.
He added that it would be wrong to publish his list of potential Supreme Court candidates now, as it could expose some judges to political attack.
But he said her first choice for the Supreme Court “will make history as the first African-American woman on the court.”
What did Trump say about Ginsburg’s successor?
Mr. Trump has vowed to take the oath “without delay” to Ginsburg’s successor.
“I think it should be a woman because I actually like women a lot more than men,” he said at a campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina on Saturday.
Earlier, Mr. Trump praised two female judges who sit on federal appeals courts as possible choices. The two justices – Amy Coney Barrett and Barbara Lagoa – are Tories who would tip the scales of the Supreme Court in favor of Republicans.
Democrats vigorously opposed any nomination before the November election, arguing that Senate Republicans blocked Democratic President Barack Obama’s choice for America’s highest court in 2016.
At the time, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell justified the move on the grounds that it was an election year. But on Friday, Senator McConnell said he intended to act on any nomination made by Mr. Trump and put it to a vote in the Senate before election day.
- Tribute to Ginsburg: “A Warrior for Gender Equality”
- Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Most Memorable Statements
The appointment of judges in the United States is a political matter which means the president can choose who is nominated. The Senate then votes to confirm – or reject – the choice.
Ginsburg, only the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court, died of metastatic cancer of the pancreas at her home in Washington DC, surrounded by her family.
Ginsburg, who served for 27 years, was one of only four Liberals on the nine-place bench. His death means that, if the Republicans got the vote, the balance of power would shift decisively towards the conservatives.
What does the Supreme Court do?
The highest court in the United States is often the final say on highly contentious laws, disputes between the state and the federal government, and final appeals to stay executions.
In recent years, the court has extended same-sex marriage to all 50 states, cleared President Trump’s travel ban, and delayed a U.S. plan to cut carbon emissions while calls continued.
- Why is America’s highest court so important?
It also deals with issues such as reproductive rights – one of the main reasons some pro-life conservatives want to tip the scales away from liberals.
Who are considered the best contenders?
- Barbara Lagoa: A Cuban American of the 11th Atlanta Circuit Court of Appeals, she was the first Hispanic judge on the Florida Supreme Court. She is a former federal prosecutor
- Amy Coney Barrett: A member of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, she is a favorite among religious conservatives and known for her anti-abortion views. She was a lawyer at Notre Dame Law School in Indiana
- Kate Comerford Todd: Deputy White House lawyer, has a lot of support inside the White House. Former Senior Vice President and General Counsel, US Chamber Litigation Center