In a joint letter released Tuesday, 150 progressive organizations urged all members of the U.S. Senate to oppose the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, saying the record of President Donald Trump’s pick for the lifetime seat reveals someone “incapable of rendering equal justice.”
The 16-page letter (pdf) by the groups, led by The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, argues that Barrett’s positions on numerous issues—ranging from healthcare access to reproductive and LGBTQ rights to criminal justice—make her a dangerous and unfit jurist for such a powerful position.
Signatories to the new letter represent a broad array of issues including Bend the Arc: Jewish Action, Disability Rights Advocates, Human Rights Campaign, National Women’s Law Center, and United We Dream.
The letter was sent a day after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) confirmed that the Senate was forging ahead with confirmation hearings next week for Barrett—a push the letter frames as an “outageous” priority over “the many urgent challenges that are gripping our nation at this moment—from the devastating impact of the worst public health crisis in a hundred years, to the racial reckoning over police brutality and violence, to the need to safeguard our democracy by helping fund the election and U.S. Postal Service.”
If confirmed, the groups warn, “the Supreme Court would grant President Trump nearly unchecked power to continue the devastating assault on civil and human rights in America, and it would cement an ultraconservative supermajority that could jeopardize critical rights and freedoms for generations—the very rights and freedoms that Justice Ginsburg helped secure during her nearly three decades of service on the Court.”
“Judge Barrett has demonstrated that she will march in lock step with President Trump’s cruel agenda to deprive millions of people of their access to healthcare,” the groups write, citing as evidence a 2017 article penned by Barrett suggesting Obamacare is unconstitutional.
Barrett’s views on reproductive rights, which have been a focal point of critics since her nomination, also come in for scrutiny. “In 2006,” the letter states, “Judge Barrett signed her name to a two-page advertisement in a South Bend, Indiana newspaper calling for the end of the legal right to abortion —which, under her extremist views, includes some forms of birth control and fertility care.”
Another strike against a confirmation for Barrett is due to her “troubling employment discrimination rulings in a few cases that have come before her.” Those included a ruling “against an African-American worker whose employer involuntarily transferred him to another store.”
The groups further warn that “Judge Barrett’s record indicates she would likely be a pivotal vote on the Court to support the gun lobby and strike down common-sense gun safety laws.”
Also at issue is the outcome of the presidential election, specifically whether or not Trump would accept the results if Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden wins. From the letter:
President Trump doubtlessly believes she would acquiesce to his attempts to destabilize our democratic process and the legitimacy of our elections. President Trump recently admitted that he wanted a ninth justice in place because he believes the Supreme Court will end up deciding the election winner, and he wants another loyalist on the court to tip the scale in his favor. He made this comment the day before he told a reporter that he would not agree to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the election. No justice confirmed under these circumstances would have legitimacy in a case bearing on the outcome of the presidential election, and, if confirmed, Judge Barrett would need to recuse herself in any election-related cases that came before the Supreme Court. It is troubling that she has not pledged to do so in response to a question about recusal on her Senate questionnaire.
“In sum,” the groups write, “Judge Barrett is an ideological extremist who lacks the fair-mindedness necessary to serve a lifetime appointment at the highest level of the branch of government charged with making the ultimate decisions about our rights, freedoms, liberties, and the meaning of our laws and Constitution.”
The stakes of this Supreme Court vacancy are incredibly high. A court with a 6-3 majority of right-wing justices could have an enormous impact on many of the rights and freedoms our nation holds so dear. In light of Judge Barrett’s hostility to the ACA’s promise of affordable healthcare, her confirmation is particularly galling amidst the ongoing public health crisis in which access to medical care is a life-or-death matter for millions of people. Yet the Senate majority has decided to prioritize Judge Barrett’s nomination over passing legislation that would help millions of people who are in dire health and economic straits as a result of the Covid-19 crisis. The cruelty of this decision is only matched by its hypocrisy, given that the Senate majority refused to allow President Obama to fill a Supreme Court vacancy that arose during the final year of his presidency. The rush to confirm Judge Barrett is designed to install her on the Court in time to strike down the ACA and affirm the concerted effort to undermine the legitimacy of our elections.
“The undersigned organizations urge the Senate to oppose the confirmation of Judge Barrett and allow the president duly chosen in the 2020 general election to fill the existing Supreme Court vacancy,” the letter concludes.