MADISON, Wis. — Hillary Clinton said Monday that the future of the Supreme Court would hang in the balance of the 2016 election, warning that Republican front-runner Donald Trump would bring division to the court if he was allowed to shape its future.
Clinton said Trump would roll back the rights of individuals and further empower corporations, pointing to his past statements about building a wall along the Mexican border and barring all non-citizen Muslims from entering the United States.
“In a single term, the Supreme Court could demolish pillars of the progressive movement,” Clinton said at the University of Wisconsin. She pointed to the possibility of a Trump presidency, asking, “What kind of justice will a President Trump appoint?”
Clinton opened a two-day campaign trip in Wisconsin ahead of the state’s April 5 primary with a topic certain to unite Democrats whether they support her or Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders: President Barack Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland.
Republicans have said that the late Justice Antonin Scalia should not be replaced until the next president picks a nominee. But Clinton argued it was reminiscent of GOP-led gridlock that stymied Obama’s two terms.
“We chose a president. We chose him twice,” Clinton said. “And now Republicans in the Senate are acting like our votes didn’t count and President Obama is not still our nation’s leader.”
She called on Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley of Iowa to commit to giving Garland a hearing and she rebuked Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, who is among the Republicans blocking the Garland nomination. “Tell him to stop playing games with the Supreme Court,” Clinton said, noting Johnson’s 2016 challenge from former Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold.
Grassley, speaking ahead of Clinton’s remarks, said she was trying to divert attention from her “email troubles,” referencing probes into her use of a private email system as secretary of state.
“This is simply a blatant attempt by Secretary Clinton to politicize the Supreme Court and to change the conversation,” Grassley said in a statement. “Her actions as Secretary of State are under investigation by Congress, two Obama-appointed inspectors general, and the FBI.”
Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump has cited the Supreme Court’s future as the top reason why Republicans should rally around his candidacy to defeat Clinton.
He’s said that he would appoint staunchly conservative, well-respected and intelligent judges and has promised to release a list of the men and women would who be on his short list.
Clinton holds a large lead among delegates against Sanders, her Democratic rival, but is trying to stamp out the Vermont senator’s momentum following his victories in five of the last six states holding contests.
Sanders was also campaigning in the state this week and has identified upcoming contests in Wisconsin, New York and Pennsylvania as states where he could cut into Clinton’s delegate lead.
Associated Press writers Alan Fram in Washington and Jill Colvin in Jersey City, New Jersey contributed to this report.