Washington, D.C.— Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding Senate Republicans’ insistence on rushing through the nomination of Judge Barrett to the Supreme Court even though Americans have already started voting in the general election. Leader Schumer laid out Judge Barrett’s record on the Affordable Care Act and said that a vote to confirm Judge Barrett to the Supreme Court is a vote to strike down the health care law, including the elimination of protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions. Senator Schumer also discussed how Republicans are unwilling to engage with Judge Barrett’s record on health care or President Trump’s repeated intentions to have the Supreme Court “terminate” the healthcare law and are instead inventing attacks on the nominee that Democrats simply are not making. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:
After Senate Republicans established the “principle” that the Senate shouldn’t consider Supreme Court nominations in presidential election years, on Saturday, President Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court with less than 40 days left in the presidential election.
The Senate has never—never—confirmed a nominee to the Supreme Court this close to a presidential election. In fact, the election is already underway, but President Trump gets to play by different rules under this Republican majority.
By nominating Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, President Trump has once again put Americans’ healthcare in the crosshairs. President Trump has promised to nominate Supreme Court Justices who will “terminate”—his words—our health care law. In Judge Barrett, President Trump has found the deciding vote.
Judge Barrett strongly criticized the ruling to uphold the Affordable Care Act, claiming that if Justices read the law the way she does, they would “have had to invalidate” the entire health care law.
Let me repeat that. Judge Barrett strongly criticized Justice Roberts’ decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act, saying that he “pushed [the law] beyond its plausible meaning to save the statute.”
If Justice Roberts had read the law the way that Judge Barrett does, the Supreme Court would “have had to invalidate” the entire Affordable Care Act.
The Republican lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act, as everyone knows, will be heard one week after the election. Senate Republicans are rushing to jam Judge Barrett’s confirmation through in time for her to hear arguments in that very case. Not one for subtlety, President Trump tweeted, on Saturday, that our health care law will be replaced “if terminated by the Supreme Court.”
So the American people should make no mistake. A vote by any Senator for Judge Amy Coney Barrett is a vote to strike down the Affordable Care Act and eliminate protections for millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions.
Judge Barrett’s record also suggests that if she is confirmed, the reproductive freedoms of millions of women would be in grave danger. Should Judge Amy Coney Barrett be confirmed, a far-right majority on the court could turn back the clock on women’s rights and a woman’s right to choose, workers’ rights, voting rights, civil rights, environmental protections, LGBTQ rights, and more. The future for DACA recipients hangs in the balance as well.
So this nomination concerns no less than the fundamental rights of the American people.
After holding a Supreme Court vacancy open for 8 months before a presidential election, President Trump and Leader McConnell are doing what no Senate has done before: shamelessly rushing to fill Justice Ginsburg’s seat less than 40 days before a presidential election.
Justice Ginsburg’s dying wish was that she not be replaced until a new president is installed. Republicans are poised not only ignore her wishes, but to replace her with someone who could tear down everything that she built.
This reprehensible power grab is a cynical attack on the legitimacy of the Court.
And I will strongly, strongly, strongly oppose this nomination.
The Senate Republican majority has decided that they will stop at nothing, break all the rules—even their own rules—to rush this nomination through before the election. But apparently, the Senate majority isn’t going to stop at naked hypocrisy. It is also going to engage in manufactured hysterics.
For the past few weeks, long before President Trump even nominated Judge Barrett, Senate Republicans have been telling everyone who will listen that ‘Democrats better not make Catholicism an issue in this nomination.’
Last week, a member of this chamber took the time to write me an entire letter pre-emptively warning about anti-Catholic attacks against a nominee who hadn’t been named yet. Another member of this chamber said that “In Chuck Schumer’s America – only atheists can be Supreme Court Justices.”
Of course, not a single Democrat will make these attacks or make personal, religious beliefs an issue – but that doesn’t matter to my Republican friends. Oh, no. They’ll try to slander Democrats with this imaginary issue anyway because they are desperate for a distraction.
Republicans invented this concern because they are so eager to make this nomination about anything other than their disgraceful double standard; anything besides their attempts to take away health care and curtail the fundamental rights of the American people.
Honestly, it’s embarrassing—embarrassing—how transparent Republicans are being about this manufactured line of attack. They couldn’t even wait for a Catholic nominee to be chosen! They already scripted the attacks.
The Senator from Tennessee is making wild allegations, the Senator from Missouri is writing ridiculous letters, and my friend from Florida is cutting videos decrying the kind of attacks on a person’s faith that haven’t occurred since the political Right was implying that our last, practicing, Christian President – President Obama – was a secret Muslim.
Spare us the sanctimony. I don’t remember my Republican colleagues making a fuss when peaceful protesters were tear gassed so President Trump could hold a bible upside-down in front of a Church for a photo-op.
Look, I understand why certain Republicans are resorting to this disgusting tactic: they have no other argument. They can’t argue that this nomination must proceed because of some solemn constitutional duty—because they argued the exact opposite position four years ago.
And they certainly can’t argue the merits of Judge Barrett’s position on the Affordable Care Act because they know it’s dreadfully unpopular with the American people.
No wonder—no wonder—Republicans are so desperate to talk about literally anything else.