Politics

The Most Important Line From Bernie Sanders' Endorsement of Hillary Clinton

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders endorsed Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Tuesday afternoon, 36 days after she became the party's presumptive nominee.

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At an organizing event in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Sanders spoke about a slew of issues — everything from immigration and climate change to universal health care — but the most important takeaway from his endorsement may have been this one line about the U.S. Supreme Court.

He said:

"If you don’t believe this election is important, take a moment to think about the Supreme Court justices that Donald Trump will nominate, and what that means to civil liberties, equal rights and the future of our country."

The Citizens United decision to which Sanders was referring is particularly important because, if overturned, it would restrict the amount of money lobbying groups, nonprofit organizations, for-profit corporations, labor unions, and other associations could legally contribute to political campaigns.

Sanders presidential campaign ways fueled by his arguments that corporate donations were a corrupting influence in American politics.

But, as Sanders noted, the Supreme Court's purview goes far beyond campaign finance, and touches on issues like "a woman’s right to choose, the rights of the LGBT community, workers’ rights, the needs of minorities and immigrants, and the government’s ability to protect the environment."

There is currently one vacancy in the Supreme Court, which was created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. President Barack Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to fill the vacancy, but his confirmation has been stalled by congressional republicans.

Trump has made it clear he would prefer to nominate a more conservative judge to replace Scalia.

While the Democratic presidential primary centered around the differences between Sanders and Clinton, on Tuesday, the Vermont senator chose to focus on the areas of agreement.

Sanders talked about raising the minimum wage to a "livable wage" (Trump has said he wants to abolish it), moving toward universal health care (Trump has said he wants to abolish the Affordable Care Act, a move that would affect 20 million Americans' health care coverage), creating new jobs to repair the country's infrastructure, and offering free college tuition to students, among other things. He also discussed the importance of taking steps to stop climate change, "the greatest environmental crisis facing our planet."

He said that although he and Clinton have disagreed on a number of issues, he knows she would fight for all these things and unite America instead of dividing it.

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"In these stressful times for our country, this election must be about bringing our people together, not dividing us up," he said. "While Donald Trump is busy insulting Mexicans, Muslims, women, African Americans and veterans, Hillary Clinton understands that our diversity is one of our greatest strengths."

Read the full transcript of Sanders' endorsement of Clinton here.