Schumer Floor Remarks On The Risk Judge Barrett’s Confirmation To The Supreme Court Would Pose To Americans’ Fundamental Rights Including The Right To Vote

October 20, 2020

Washington, D.C. — Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the risks to Americans’ health care and fundamental rights posed by the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

Yesterday, in a 4-4 split ruling, the Supreme Court declined to hear a case that could have prevented the state of Pennsylvania from counting all the votes in the November election. It was an important decision for democracy, but also a reminder of what is truly at stake in the Supreme Court vacancy left by Justice Ginsburg. One more vote, provided by a hard-right, Trump-nominated Justice, could be the difference between voting rights and voting suppression.

Over the past several years, closely divided decisions at the Supreme Court have meant the difference between having the ability to marry the person you love, or not; the ability to have your right to vote protected, or not; the ability to make personal choices about your own healthcare, or not.

The American people should know exactly what is at stake in the nomination of Judge Barrett to the Supreme Court: nothing less than their fundamental rights as Americans.

So frankly it was an insult to the intelligence of the American people for Judge Barrett to spend the entire Judiciary Committee hearings dodging every single question of substance—including questions as to whether voter intimidation is illegal or whether the president can unilaterally delay the election. To not be able to answer whether the president can unilaterally delay the election? Woah.

Just think about what it means for a sitting Judge to refuse to answer a question about voter intimidation—voting, the wellspring of our democracy—because she thinks it’s too controversial. Think about what it means for a sitting Judge to refuse to answer a question about the peaceful transfer of power—the bedrock of our democracy—because it might upset her patron, President Trump.

It’s absurd. No one is buying it. Every election season, Republicans promise to nominate judges who will tear down our health care and roll back the clock on women’s rights. The far right promises to deliver judges who will dismantle the environmental regulations that keep our air and water clean and protect our planet from runaway global warming. President Trump has made the same promises, out loud, many times. But, as soon as someone is nominated to be a Justice, all of the sudden that person becomes a legal vacuum, a cypher, totally devoid of ideas, views, or opinions, even on questions of basic, legal, uncontroversial fact.

The truth is, Judge Barrett does have, unfortunately, hard-right views and opinions on these issues. Her views are so far away from the American people, none of them could pass in this Senate even though it’s controlled by Republicans, and certainly not in the House. She has harshly criticized decisions to uphold the Affordable Care Act. She has been closely affiliated with organizations who advocate for the elimination of a woman’s right to choose. She has drafted judicial opinions on the issue of gun safety that put her far to the right of even Justice Scalia.

That’s why in the hearings last week, the President for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law said “Judge Barrett’s views are far outside the mainstream.” That’s why, yesterday, the plaintiffs in the decisions that resulted in marriage equality – Obergefell and Hodges – said that they oppose Judge Barrett for the Supreme Court because she will endanger hard-won rights.

So this idea that Judge Barrett is some sort of neutral arbiter who will only interpret the law as it’s written is just not believable. She will make hugely impactful decisions that could alter the fabric of American society, starting with what will be one of her very first cases: a lawsuit pushed by President Trump and Republicans to rip away health care from millions of Americans. God save us.

 

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