Civil rights groups condemned the president for undermining the democratic process by nominating a judge to replace Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg after voting has already begun to take place in the 2020 election. In typical Donald Trump form, after accusing Democrats of “rigging” the election, the president’s nomination on Saturday of Amy Coney Barrett could end up helping him get re-elected.
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Those above truths will be disastrous for certain liberties that Americans take for granted, civil rights leaders said in response to Barrett’s nomination.
“With a presidential election already underway, the president rushed to nominate a Supreme Court justice to replace the late Justice Ginsburg on the nation’s highest court. The timing of Judge Barrett’s nomination is unprecedented, marking the first time a nominee has been put forth in the middle of an ongoing general election as tens of thousands of Americans actively cast their ballots,” Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said in a statement after Trump made his nomination official earlier in the day.
“Her nomination comes amid this administration’s relentless attacks on affirmative action, voting rights, access to health care and attempts to undermine the 2020 Census – issues impacting the lives and civil rights of all Americans, particularly African Americans and other people of color. The Senate should not silence the will of the people by rushing the confirmation process forward before the election has been decided. As with all nominations, the Senate should take seriously its constitutional obligation to fully review and vet nominees, as opposed to rubber-stamping Barrett’s nomination to achieve the political goal of a 9-member Court in time for the end of the 2020 election,” Clarke added.
Those concerns were echoed by Sherrilyn Ifill, President, and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., who also called out the same Republicans who wouldn’t allow President Barack Obama‘s Supreme Court nominee to have a hearing four years ago is fine with doing so now.
“In 2016, Senators refused even to consider President Obama’s nominee to fill a Supreme Court vacancy that arose when Justice Scalia died in February of that year, deeming it too close to the presidential election,” Ifill said in a statement before continuing later. “Yet, now that the President shares their partisan affiliation, many of those same Senators have reversed course — promising to vote on President Trump’s nominee even though the general election is already underway. Our constitutional democracy depends on those in power acting with principle. For the Senate to disregard a rule it created just four years ago because of partisan considerations demeans both the Senate and the Court, and it is an assault on the rule of law itself.”
Even Barrett once explained why she believed — at the time, at least — that it is wrong to confirm a Supreme Court Justice during an election year.
Ben Jealous, People For the American Way, looked at the healthcare implications behind Trump’s nomination of Barrett.
“It is no surprise that Donald Trump has nominated another anti-healthcare, anti-choice judge to the U.S. Supreme Court,” Jealous said in a statement that also pointed to a report on Barrett’s record that was recently released by People For the American Way. The report found, among other telling rulings from Barrett, that the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals judge once “voted to deny a rehearing to a Black man whose employer assigned staff to particular stores based on their race, essentially giving the nod to a modern-day example of racist ‘separate but equal’ segregation practices.”
The confirmation of Barrett, who’s been linked to an alleged religious and pro-life cult called People of Praise, could threaten women’s access to abortion, the Very Reverend Katherine Ragsdale, President, and CEO of the National Abortion Federation said in a statement Saturday.
“As we grapple with a global pandemic and over 200,000 deaths from COVID-19, our senators should focus on providing relief to struggling families, not fast-tracking another Trump nominee,” Ragsdale said in part before continuing. “Judge Barrett has the approval of ultraconservative and anti-abortion groups, and her views are out of step with the majority of Americans, who overwhelmingly support access to safe, legal abortion care. Seventy-seven percent of people in this country believe the Supreme Court should uphold Roe v. Wade. We need a Supreme Court justice who will honor precedent, including Roe v. Wade, and that is not Judge Amy Coney Barrett.”
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The New York Times reported that Barrett, a staunch conservative, was the only person who Trump interviewed for the position. Trump “came away impressed with a jurist that leading conservatives told him would be a female Antonin Scalia, referring to the justice who died in 2016 and for whom Judge Barrett clerked,” Peter Baker reported for the Times.
Scalia, of course, is also the same person who once suggested that some Black people belong at “lesser colleges.” The racist remark came in 2015 as the Reagan-appointee questioned an attorney for the University of Texas, which was defending its use of race as a factor in admissions in Fisher v. Texas, a case before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Barrett, for her part, said Saturday that she “will be mindful of who came before me,” a nod to Ginsburg, who was long a bastion of liberalism and women’s rights.
Republicans have the majority in the Senate, meaning it’s likely Barrett’s nomination will be given an expedited Senate confirmation hearing, giving Trump his unprecedented third hand-picked Supreme Court Justice in four years.
Trump has threatened to remain in power even if he loses the election, which could end up being decided by the Supreme Court like what happened two decades ago. Placing another conservative justice on the federal bench can only further stack the odds in the president’s favor, something that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi seemed t acknowledge after Barrett was formally nominated.
“Trump is exploiting this vacancy against the clear and overwhelming will of the American people, as he dismantles the pillars of health and economic security in America,” Pelosi said in part of a longer statement released Saturday. “Every vote to confirm this nominee is a vote to dismantle health care. The American people will hold every Senator responsible for their vote at the ballot box.”
The Senate has already been scheduled to hold confirmation hearings for Barrett beginning the week of Oct. 12, less than a month before the election.