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Biden extolls rule of law during speech in Las Vegas

December 2, 2018
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Keynote speaker former Vice President Joe Biden pauses during his speech during the UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law 20th Anniversary Gala at the Bellagio Casino in Las Vegas, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018. The annual event serves as the school's principal scholarship fundraiser. (Yasmina Chavez/Las Vegas Sun via AP)

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Civil and constitutional rights are under “unrelenting attack,” former Vice President Joe Biden said during a speech Saturday at which he remembered former President George H.W. Bush as a man of class and decency.

Biden spoke at a University of Nevada, Las Vegas, law school fundraiser, where he also rallied for the rule of law.

The longtime Democratic senator from Delaware remembered fondly that Bush, a Republican who died late Friday, fought his own physical ailments to personally meet Biden in Houston, Bush’s hometown, where Biden’s son, Beau Biden, was treated before dying of cancer in 2015.

Bush was in a wheelchair, Biden said.

“He said, ‘I just came to welcome you to Houston and to tell you how badly I feel about Beau,’” Biden recalled. “How many people today in American politics would do that?”

Biden didn’t speak President Donald Trump’s name, and he made no reference to whether he plans to seek the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

Biden, who turned 76 last month, spent recent weeks stumping for Democratic candidates before the November election and has said he expects to decide by early next year whether he’ll challenge Trump.

He instead talked in general terms about abuses of power, “whether it’s an individual or a mob,” and about an “unrelenting attack on civil rights, civil liberties, a free press and an independent court system.”

“In other countries, the king is law,” Biden said, quoting Thomas Paine. “In America, the law is king.”

Biden was warmly received by a banquet of nearly 1,000 people, including Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and many federal and state judges at the fundraiser for the William S. Boyd School of Law.

He made a pointed reference to an extraordinary recent public clash between Chief Supreme Court Justice John Roberts and Trump over the independence of America’s judiciary.

“Did you ever think the chief justice of the United States of America would have to directly, as he did recently as an officer of the court, make it clear the court’s allegiance isn’t to any powerful person or to anyone who appointed him?” Biden asked.

“The independence of our court system is the glue that holds everything together,” he said.

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