Schumer Floor Remarks On The Threat Posed By Judge Barrett To Americans’ Health Care And Fundamental Rights And Senate Republicans Historic, Illegitimate And Unprecedented Rush To Confirm Judge Barrett To The Supreme Court Days Before Presidential Election Day

October 22, 2020

Washington, D.C. — Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor about the threat posed by confirming Judge Barrett to the Supreme Court. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

Before I get into the substance of my remarks, I’ll briefly redress the Republican Leader. He went on the floor and with his typical vitriol, made all kinds of accusations.

The bottom line is Leader McConnell is angry. Why?

Because we Democrats have exposed that he has defiled the Senate as an institution more than any person in this generation and many generations.

Because we Democrats have exposed the hypocrisy of holding up Merrick Garland because it was eight months before an election and rushing through Amy Coney Barrett because it’s something we can do.

The bottom line is Leader McConnell of course doesn’t like hearing these things but they are the truth, and they will live on in history. The man who defiled the Senate. The man who created one of the greatest hypocritical acts in the history of the Senate sits in that chair.

Now, the Republican majority is steering the Senate towards one of the lowest moments in its long history. And the damage it does to this chamber may be very well be irrevocable.

After thwarting the Constitutional prerogative of a duly-elected Democratic President to appoint a Supreme Court Justice because it was an election year, the Republican majority is rushing to confirm a Justice for a Republican President one week—one week—before Election Day.

Four short years ago, all of our Republican friends argued that it was a principle—that’s the word they used, “principle”—to let the American people have a voice in the selection of a Supreme Court Justice, because an election was eight months away.

Those same Republicans are preparing to confirm a Justice with an election that is eight days away. What a stench of hypocrisy.

In the process, the majority has trampled over every norm, rule, or standard that could possibly stand in its way.

It has ignored health guidelines to conduct in-person hearings in the middle of a pandemic, after Republican members of the Committee themselves had contracted COVID.

It has broken longstanding Senate precedent. Never in the history of the Senate has a Supreme Court nominee—a lifetime appointment—been considered so close to an election. The Presiding Officer of the Senate confirmed this yesterday, in response to this Senator’s inquiry. 

Never in the history of the Senate has a Supreme Court nominee been confirmed after July of an election year.

Madam President, it is a hallmark of democracy that Might does not make Right. But the Republicans are blatantly ignoring this principle. Here in Leader McConnell’s Senate, the majority lives by the rule of “because we can.” They completely ignore the question of whether they should. Morality, principles, values, consistency, all out the window.

And here, now, we have the culmination of this Republican majority’s systematic erosion of rules and norms in pursuit of raw political power: a Supreme Court nominee, who will be confirmed on a party-line vote after the rules were changed to allow it, in complete contradiction to the supposed “principle” that same party so vehemently argued only four years ago, eight days before an election in which the American people will choose exactly who they want to pick Supreme Court Justices for them.  

And this idea—that, because now the Senate is controlled by the president, the senate and the presidency and the senate are in one party, the rule doesn’t apply—they never said that when they brought Merrick Garland. It’s fakery. It’s part of the house of lies that is being built by the majority to rush a Supreme Court Justice like this.

It is absurd. It is outrageous. It is a stain on this body and an indelible mark on this Senate majority, that will live in history.

This Senate Republican majority is conducting the most rushed, most partisan, and least legitimate process in the long history of Supreme Court nominations.

And Democrats will not lend an ounce of legitimacy to that process.

Today, the members of minority on the Judiciary Committee have boycotted the markup of Judge Amy Coney Barrett.

The rules of the Judiciary Committee require that two members of the minority be present in order to conduct a markup. True to form, Chairman Graham decided to break the rules to move forward with a vote on Judge Barrett anyway—steamrolling over the rules of the Judiciary Committee, just like Republicans have steamrolled over principle, honesty, fairness, consistency, decency in their mad rush to confirm a Justice before the election.

To steamroll over rules? That’s the mark of an autocratic society, not the mark of a democracy. The Republican majority is going along with that kind of autocracy. The same kind exhibited by President Trump and it’s a shame. The principles of the Republican Party are out the window.

Today, the Democratic seats on the dais in that Committee room remained empty. In their place were reminders of what is ultimately at stake in this nomination: the fundamental rights of the American people.

In their place were the photographs of Americans whose lives would be devastated if Justice Barrett delivers the decisive vote to strike down the Affordable Care Act—ripping away health care from tens of millions of Americans and eliminating protections for 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions.

You could imagine, alongside their faces, the faces of women who cherish the right to make their own private medical decisions.  

The faces of LGBTQ Americans who want to marry who they love and not be fired for who they are.

The faces of American workers who are breaking their backs to make ends meet and need their union to help them get a better wage.

The faces of young people who know that the planet is in peril in their lifetimes.

I hope that when Republican members of the Committee took their seats this morning, they looked at those faces. They ought to think about what this nomination means for them.

I hope they actually took one moment to think about what it says about their sham of a process that Democrats were forced to take the extraordinary step of refusing to participate.

But while they may realize it or not—they may not even care—the Republican majority’s monomaniacal drive to confirm this Justice in the most hypocritical of circumstances will forever defile the Senate, and curtail the fundamental rights of American people for generations to come.

And to every one of my colleagues, history will remember what you have done.

Democrats will play no part in it.