Schumer Floor Remarks On Senate Republicans Breaking Precedent And Ignoring 50 Million Americans Who Have Already Cast Ballots In The Ongoing Election To Rush Through A Nominee To The Supreme Court Who Will Roll Back Americans’ Health Care And Fundamental Rights

October 23, 2020

Washington, D.C. — Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the Republican majority’s mad dash to confirm Judge Barrett days before a presidential election day. Senator Schumer laid out the dire impact the confirmation of Judge Barrett would have for Americans’ health care and fundamental rights. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks:

We have just heard a tit-for-tat, convoluted version of history that the Majority Leader uses to justify steering the Senate towards one of the lowest moments in its long history.

 Might does not make right: you did something wrong so we can do something wrong is no justification when the rights of the American people are at stake.

The Republican majority is steering the Senate towards one of the lowest moments in its long history. The Republican majority is on the precipice of making a colossal and historic mistake. And the damage it does to this chamber will 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 before Election Day.

Consistency? Afraid not. You don’t have the right to argue consistency when you’re doing what you’re doing now.

Four short years ago, all of our Republican friends argued that it was a principle – that was 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.

In the process, the majority has trampled over norms, rules, standards, honor, values—any of them, that could possibly stand in its monomaniacal pursuit to put someone on the Court who will take away the rights of so many Americans.

The Republican majority of course ignored health guidelines to conduct in-person hearings in the middle of a pandemic, after Republican members of the Committee themselves had contracted COVID-19.

It has broken longstanding Senate precedent. Never, never in the history of the Senate, despite any sophistic analyses of recent history, never has a Supreme Court nominee—a lifetime appointment—been considered so close to an election.

The Presiding Officer of the Senate confirmed 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.

My friends, it is a hallmark of democracy that might does not make right.

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.

A Supreme Court nominee, who will be confirmed on a party-line vote after the rules were changed to allow it, now, it doesn't matter that an election is just a short time away.

It’s a complete contradiction of the supposed “principle” that same party so vehemently argued only four years ago.

Again, eight days—eight days before an election in which the American people will choose exactly who they want to pick Supreme Court Justices for them.

For the Republican Leader to argue for consistency, using his convoluted version of history, is laughable.

It is absurd. It is outrageous. It is a stain on this body and an indelible mark on this Senate majority.

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

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

Yesterday, the seats of the Democratic members of the Judiciary remained vacant in that committee room.

In their place were the reminders of what is ultimately at stake in this nomination: the fundamental rights of the American people.

It’s not Democrat or Republican, or who did this when or who did that when. It is the rights of the American people, what America needs, and what Judge Barrett has stood for on these issues in the past, that is ultimately what matters.

On the seats of those Democratic members were photographs of Americans whose lives would be devastated if a 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 more than 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 Senate think about this nomination, they will think about those faces, what this nomination means to them. Hundreds of millions of Americans will lose rights and fundamental things they need to make their lives better because of this nomination.

It’s not about qualifications. It's about what the American people need and want, and whether an unelected body will take those rights away from them.

So, I hope my colleagues will think about that.

Take a moment. Take a moment to think about it.

And then think about what it says about this sham of a process, and the passion that we on this side of the aisle feel about protecting those people's rights, that we were forced to take the extraordinary step of refusing to participate in this process.

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

Democrats will play no part in that.