Senator Dianne Feinstein said Barrett would push the court further to the right, jeopardizing “many rights and protections that the American people have fought for and deeply cherish,” including abortion. In any case, Feinstein said, the Senate shouldn’t consider any nominee to replace the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg until the Nov. 3 election has been held and the “next president has been inaugurated,” apparently ruling out the possibility that Trump could be re-elected.
Other leading Democrats, including presidential candidate Joe Biden, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi, said confirming Barrett to the court would help Trump crush Obamacare. “Vote like your health care is on the ballot – because it is,” Biden said on Twitter. Schumer tweeted that a vote for Barrett “is a vote to eliminate health care for millions in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic.” Pelosi said grimly, “This nomination threatens the destruction of life-saving protections for 135 million Americans.”
As if threatening millions of lives is not reason enough to torpedo Barrett’s nomination, other Democrats pointed out the precedent of 2016, when the Republican-controlled Senate blocked former President Barack Obama’s nominee to the high court nearly nine months before that year’s presidential election. California Governor Gavin Newsom tweeted a debunked video of Barrett apparently saying in 2016 that it’s wrong to fill a Supreme Court vacancy in an election year.
Even the anti-Trump Washington Post has said the video was deceptively edited and that Barrett was not arguing against confirming a new Supreme Court justice in an election year.
The attacks on Barrett began even before Trump officially nominated her in a Rose Garden ceremony Saturday afternoon. Democrat political operatives went so far as to suggest that Barrett and her husband had abused or kidnapped their two adopted children from Haiti. When Barrett was appointed to the 7th US Circuit Court in 2017, Feinstein questioned whether she could judge fairly because of her Catholic faith, saying “the dogma lives loudly within you.”
The tone of the reaction suggested dim prospects for what Trump hoped would be a smooth confirmation process. He urged Democrats “to provide Judge Barrett with the respectful and dignified hearing that she deserves – and frankly that our country deserves.” He also called on lawmakers and media outlets to “refrain from personal or partisan attacks.”
“The stakes for our country are incredibly high,” Trump said. “Rulings that the Supreme Court will issue in the coming years will decide the survival of the Second Amendment, our religious liberty, public safety and so much more. To maintain security, liberty and prosperity, we must preserve our priceless heritage of a nation of laws.”
While Trump tried to downplay — in some cases jokingly — the fierce political battle ahead, Barrett acknowledged the tough confirmation gauntlet she must run. “I have no illusions that the road ahead of me will be easy, either for the short term or the long haul,” she said. “I never imagined that I would find myself in this position, but now that I am, I assure you that I will meet the challenge with both humility and courage.”
Barrett became Trump’s third Supreme Court appointment, and the second, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, was hit with wild accusations of sexual assault from his teen years during a 2018 confirmation hearing that deepened the partisan divide in Washington. Political tensions are even higher this time around, with the election looming less than six weeks away.
Barrett, 48, spoke admiringly of Ginsburg, who died on Sept. 18, saying she “not only broke glass ceilings, she smashed them.” She said she also was inspired by the friendship that Ginsburg maintained with the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, for whom Barrett served as a law clerk more than 20 years ago. “These two great Americans demonstrated that arguments, even about matters of great consequence, need not destroy affection,” she said.
Barrett said she tries to live by that same principle in her personal and professional lives. She tried to extend an olive branch to all Americans, saying: “The president has nominated me to serve on the United States Supreme Court, and that institution belongs to all of us. If confirmed, I would not assume that role for the sake of those in my own circle and certainly not for my own sake, but I would assume this role to serve you.”
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