Schumer Floor Remarks On The Risk Judge Barrett’s Nomination To The Supreme Court Poses For Americans’ Fundamental Rights And Republicans’ Violation Of Their Own Principles To Rush Judge Barrett’s Nomination

October 21, 2020

Washington, D.C. — Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on how Judge Barrett would be a threat to Americans’ fundamental rights and access to health care. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

Now on the Supreme Court. The Republican Leader has announced that the Senate will vote on Judge Amy Coney Barrett to be a Supreme Court Justice next Monday – capping what will be the most rushed, most partisan, and least legitimate process in the history, in the entire history of Supreme Court nominations.

Leader McConnell continues to defile the Senate more than any Senator has done in a very long time. Let us hope that Leader McConnell hasn’t ruined the Senate for good with this nasty, 180-degree turn, holding up Merrick Garland, rushing this judge through, while people are on line at the polling places.

The idea ‘let’s wait for the next election’ was total hypocrisy, total hypocrisy.

The United States Senate has never—never—considered a Supreme Court Justice this close to a national presidential election. I doubt it ever will again. I don’t think we’ll ever have the combination of Donald Trump and Leader McConnell, who so don’t care about what they said in the past—Leader McConnell anyway—who so don’t care about trying to pick a Justice who will look at the law as opposed to ideological views. I hope it doesn’t happen again. Pray it doesn’t happen again.

Just four years ago, we all know, the Republican Leader, the former Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, the current Chairman of the Judiciary Committee and nearly every single Republican member argued that President Obama’s nominee didn’t deserve a hearing or a vote on the floor of the Senate because there was a national election eight months away. Mere hours after the passing of Justice Scalia, Leader McConnell said “The American people deserve a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice.” Not if one party or another party controlled the presidency or the Senate, absolute, the American people deserve a voice.

That was eight months from an election. Leader McConnell confirmed yesterday that the vote to confirm President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court will take place eight days before an election.

Senate Republicans could wait eight months to “give the American people a voice” in selecting a Supreme Court Justice. Now, they can’t wait eight days. I’m sure that if they had to, the Republican majority would confirm a Supreme Court Justice eight minutes before Election Day. Is it any wonder that Democrats are so angry? Is it no wonder that the American people are tearing their hair out? When they have said they want to wait until the next election, when that’s only fair, that’s only democratic?

The hypocrisy is towering and enormous. And as I said, Leader McConnell could destroy this chamber for a very long time.

Why is this happening? Well, this is part of a decade-long effort to shift the courts to the far-right, so that the far right—which has so many Republicans in their grasp—can accomplish through the judiciary what they could never accomplish through the Congress. Senate Republicans failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act, we know that happened right here, so President Trump and Republican Attorneys General are suing to eliminate the law in court. Senate Republicans don’t dare put repeal of Roe v. Wade on the floor of the Senate. They know it would fail. They try to appoint Justices who are dedicated to repealing that vital right of a woman to choose and to control her own body. This is just an amazing moment. One of Judge Barrett’s very first cases would be to hear arguments against the Affordable Care Act, the very act that this chamber rejected repeal of.

Republicans, as I said, could never repeal a woman’s right to choose in Congress, they don’t even dare bring it to the floor! The far-right has never has a majority on the Court to limit Roe v. Wade or Griswold, but if Judge Barrett becomes Justice Barrett—it very well might.

Women of America, watch out! Watch out!

I’ll remind my colleagues and the American people: when President Trump was asked about Roe v. Wade during his final debate against Hillary Clinton, he said “if we put another two or perhaps three Justices on [the Court], [the repeal of Roe v. Wade] will happen automatically.”

Is that what this Republican majority stands for? If they do, announce it to the American people. Don’t hide behind this idea that Justices are calling balls and strikes, that they will obey precedent. Don’t hide behind that, because we know what’s happening here.

The American people should make no mistake: their fundamental rights are on the line. Their right to affordable health care. To make their own medical decisions. To join a union, vote without impediments, the right to marry who they love. That’s what this is all about.

Now, Leader McConnell has strained credulity to argue that ramming a Supreme Court Justice through the Senate while American voters wait in line to cast their ballots is completely normal. Nothing to see here, he says.

Who believes him? I don’t think a single Republican on that side believes him. They know what’s going on. This is not the Senate, as he says, performing its historic function.

This is a fiction. There is no precedent in the history for the Senate for what the Republicans are doing. Abraham Lincoln, our great hero, a great Republican, rejected nominating somebody for the Supreme Court so close to an election.

So Republicans, at the very least, ought to go on record and admit this is an extraordinary breach of precedent, of comity, of fairness, of decency, of honor, of truth, of consistency.

So in a short time, I will make a point of order that the Senate should not consider a nomination to the Supreme Court this close to a presidential election.

Every Senator will vote on whether a nomination this close to an election shall be in order. It will confirm to the American people what we all know to be true: that the Republican majority has absolutely no intention of honoring the supposed “principle” it so vehemently argued in 2016.

That they won’t follow history, that they won’t follow precedent, that they won’t follow the norms and traditions of the Senate, that they won’t even follow their own standards. That is the indelible mark on this Senate majority.

That here in Leader McConnell’s Senate, it’s the rule of “because we can”—“might makes right,” “because we can”—as Senator Whitehouse put it.

All to confirm a far-right Justice on the Court who would rip health care away from tens of millions of Americans in the middle of a pandemic.

We’ll see how my Republicans colleagues vote.