POLITICS & GOVERNMENT

Menendez voices dire warnings of placing an ‘extremist’ on the Supreme Court

BY Brenda Flanagan, Senior Correspondent |

At a federally-funded health care clinic in Camden, Democrats voiced dire warnings about the impact Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee could ultimately have on people’s access to medical coverage, especially for 3.8 million New Jerseyans with pre-existing conditions.

“Protections for pre-existing conditions form the very heart of the Affordable Care Act, and it’s now possible we’ll have an extremist Supreme Court justice willing to drive a stake right through it,” said Sen. Bob Menendez.

That, on top of another hard swipe the Trump administration took at Obamacare this weekend announcing it will freeze an expected $10.4 billion payment insurance companies had expected under the law to help pay for patients with expensive medical problems. Critics claim the tactic will send premiums for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act soaring and could end up before the Supreme Court.

“It’s pretty heinous to drive up rates, to undermine the protections against pre-existing conditions in a court case whose purpose is to undermine and ultimately end the Affordable Care Act,” Menendez said.

“To take $10 billion out of the system, that’s even real money by Washington’s standards, but $10 billion are people’s lives that are being lost,” said Rep. Donald Norcross.

Both Democrats, who are up for re-election this November, also warned a Supreme Court remade by Donald Trump would roll back Roe v. Wade, attack civil rights and erode voting rights. Menendez charged his Republican opponent Bob Hugin had expressed approval of Trump’s first Supreme Court pick, conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch.

“I voted against Justice Gorsuch because I did not feel that he would both protect women’s right to choose, and I felt that he would end up being an activist judge,” Menendez said. “Gorsuch ended up being a bad justice of the Supreme Court for average New Jerseyans. My opponent, Bob Hugin, said he thought that he was a perfect choice and he would support more justices like him.”

Hugin, a former Trump delegate, claims he supports abortion and same-sex marriage.

“Generally speaking, Bob Hugin would be supportive of Supreme Court nominees who strictly interpret the Constitution, uphold and enforce the law, and not legislate from the bench. It’s disappointing, but not surprising, that Bob Menendez is so partisan and political he has decided to pass judgement on the nominee before anyone even knows their name,” said Hugin communications director, Megan Piwowar, in a statement.

In the end, Democrats hope to persuade Senate colleagues, even red state Democrats facing precarious re-election bids, to vote no on any Trump nomination.

“I think my colleagues, even in the toughest of states, understand that this will be a decision that will follow them for the rest of their lives,” Menendez said.

No matter which Supreme Court candidate the president reveals Monday night, expect a bitter confirmation battle.