Gillibrand: Republicans rushing court choice

Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand speaks at Jefferson Community College in Watertown over the summer. Sydney Schaefer/Watertown Daily Times

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., on Tuesday said she expects Senate Republicans to force through the nomination process of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.

She also said those opposed to the nomination should be as vocal as possible in order to let Senate Republicans know their views.

“(Senate Majority Leader) Mitch McConnell sets the schedule, so he will call the vote when he chooses to,” she said in a video press conference Tuesday afternoon. “What we can do as Americans is raise our voices and be heard on this and let Mitch McConnell and the Republicans know that we do not want this kind of sham of a process.”

Sen. Gillibrand said Senate Republicans are rushing the process through and nominating an “extremely conservative” judge who is “outside the mainstream.” Sen. Gillibrand said she believes the American people should have a voice in who the next Supreme Court justice is, and that voice should be expressed through the Nov. 3 presidential election.

In comparison to other processes, the process to confirm Judge Barrett to the nation’s high court is “rushed,” she said. The day Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died, Sept. 18, President Donald J. Trump announced he intended to fill her seat before the election. Eight days later, he officially nominated Judge Barrett to fill the seat, and Senate hearings began Monday.

“We don’t want this nomination to be rushed,” she said. “This judge is the wrong judge for this moment, given her record and previous statements, and this should wait for the American people to decide who the next president is going to be.”

Sen. Gillibrand said Judge Barrett, who was appointed to serve on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals by Mr. Trump in 2017, has expressed what the senator calls “concerning” views on a number of issues, including LGBTQ+ rights, environmental issues, gun rights and the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Sen. Gillibrand said she believes Senate Republicans are rushing this nomination through because they want to ensure there’s a strong conservative majority on the Supreme Court when it begins hearing arguments in Texas v. California — the upcoming lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the ACA — on Nov. 10, which is just one week after the election.

The Supreme Court has held a conservative majority since Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh was appointed to the court in 2018, but Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., appointed by President George W. Bush in 2005, has occasionally ruled with the court’s more liberal justices on certain issues. In 2012, Justice Roberts ruled alongside the courts more liberal justices to uphold the ACA.

If Judge Barrett is confirmed to the high court, Democrats say they fear the court would rule 5-4 in favor of striking down the ACA.

“The reason (Senate Republicans) are working so quickly is because their goal is to seat a judge in time to rule on the fate of the ACA,” Sen. Gillibrand said. “The outcome of that case is a matter of life and death to countless Americans, and striking down the ACA would rip coverage from tens of millions of Americans, and jeopardize the ability for 135 million people with pre-existing conditions to access care.”

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, more than 20 million people have gained health coverage through the Affordable Care Act. The center, according to its mission webpage, analyzes federal budget priorities “with a particular focus on how budget choices affect low-income Americans.”

Sen. Gillibrand introduced Allie Marotta, a young New Yorker who lives with type 1 diabetes. Ms. Marotta said she’s concerned she won’t be able to keep the insurance that pays for her insulin if the ACA is struck down by the Supreme Court.

“If we lose access to healthcare, I’m concerned our legislators won’t be able to act fast enough, leaving those who need life-sustaining medication particularly vulnerable. Everyone needs access to affordable healthcare, and a healthcare system that only works for the healthy isn’t a healthcare system at all.”

Democrats have said they will leave no option unexplored in fighting this nomination, or fighting the balance of the court if Judge Barrett is confirmed. When asked if she supports adding more justices to the Supreme Court — widely known as court packing and something that’s become a hot-button issue during this election season — to offset a potential conservative lean, Sen. Gillibrand said that decision would be left to the next president.

“That will be a decision for Vice President (Joe) Biden when he becomes president,” she said. “I know that Democrats in general aren’t taking things off the table, because we don’t know what the future will look like. I have grave concerns that Mitch McConnell has so abused his authority and undermined our balance on the Supreme Court that I’m sure we will debate a lot of those issues.”

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(7) comments

BenG

As if the Democrats wouldn't do the same thing if the situation was reversed. Gillibrand must really think we are stupid. One thing is for sure, never stupid enough to vote for her.

hermit thrush

trust me, as a democrat, i can tell you that democrats would not do the same thing. democrats are too timid and too afraid of being accused of hypocrisy.

Holmes

You’re joking, right? The democrats would do it in a minute.. Looks like a 6-3 court or 5-4 when Roberts drifts off, at least for the next 30-40 years...

hermit thrush

democrats have more respect for process and greater fear of voter backlash than republicans are capable of conceiving.

Pitbull

I am SHOCKED that Gillibrand would think this nomination is rushed, lol. I'm sure that she would say the same thing if a liberal judge from the 9th Circuit was before the committee! C'mon now. This is about worldview and power, not "fairness" and " consistency". Go ACB!

hermit thrush

if the shoe was on the other foot, democrats would have too much respect for the existing norms and for their own previous statements to push the nomination through like this. four years ago republicans swore up and down that exactly what they are doing now is horrible and they would never do it themselves. the fact that you are openly cheering on that kind of lying is really something.

hermit thrush

here is ted cruz (https://www.newsweek.com/what-happened-merrick-garland-what-mcconnell-trump-others-said-did-during-obamas-nomination-1537842):

Cruz issued a statement in March 2016, saying, "I proudly stand with my Republican colleagues in our shared belief—our advice and consent—that we should not vote on any nominee until the next president is sworn into office."

"The People will decide. I commend Mitch McConnell and Chuck Grassley for holding the line and ensuring that We the People get to exercise our authority to decide the direction of the Supreme Court and the Bill of Rights," he continued.

now cruz is all for acb. as is pb. pb strongly identifies as an evangelical yet embraces incredible lies like that.

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