Republican Senate candidate Jason Lewis said Minnesotans deserve to know where his opponent, Sen. Tina Smith, stands on expanding the number of justices on the U.S. Supreme Court, an issue that has taken center stage in the presidential election.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has repeatedly refused to state his position on packing the high court, telling a reporter Friday that voters “don’t deserve” to know.
President Donald Trump’s campaign suggested that Biden’s running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, was “driving the bus” on Biden’s refusal to answer the question.
“His unwillingness to answer this question is obviously an answer,” Trump’s deputy campaign manager Justin Clark said Sunday, Fox News reported.
During an Oct. 3 debate, Smith was asked if she would “support a move to add members to the court” if Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed.
“I am just not going to go there. I have no idea what the world is going to look like. I think what we should be focused on right now is what is at stake with this Supreme Court nomination,” Smith replied. “What is at stake is whether or not Minnesotans and Americans are going to be able to keep their health care and whether women’s reproductive rights are going to be protected.”
She called the question a distraction from the issues and accused Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of carrying out a “hypocritical power grab.”
“You don’t get to be a senator from Minnesota without telling people what you’re going to do. Tina Smith is pulling a Joe Biden here. ‘Well I’m not going to go there.’ That’s not an answer,” Lewis shot back.
“You’ve got to tell people where you stand. Packing the court is a dangerous scheme that’s going to take this country from a constitutional republic to a banana republic,” he added.
Lewis called a virtual press conference Sunday to demand a clear answer from Smith.
“Sen. Tina Smith is following Joe Biden’s lead by refusing to tell the voters whether she’s on board with Democrats’ radical plans to pack the Supreme Court if and when Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed,” said Lewis.
“Let me be clear, I’m not going to let Tina Smith get away with hiding from the voters on these vital issues. Not only must Judge Barrett receive a fair hearing this week and be confirmed, but let me add that I vehemently oppose packing the court and see it as an assault on the separation of powers and on the judicial branch,” he continued.
The former congressman said Democrats like Smith want jurists who will “rule their way” on late-term abortion and gun control.
“This assault on the constitutional separation of powers is a ‘clear and present’ danger to our very system of government and is the latest sign that Democrats are changing the rules in the middle of the game and undertaking the most radical path to power in American history,” he said.