Merkley Announces Opposition to Confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett After Alarming Hearings

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley released the following statement after the conclusion of Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearings:

“Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, and Senate Republicans broke 230 years of precedent by rushing to fill a Supreme Court vacancy while Americans were already casting their ballots in a presidential election. This week’s hearings make plain why this hypocritical, norm-shattering nomination is so important to them: Judge Amy Coney Barrett is their hand-picked saboteur to ensure that the Supreme Court continues undermining democracy, eroding our rights, and stacking the deck for the privileged and powerful.

“The American people saw this week a radical judge who provided evasive—at times downright alarming—answers to basic questions of decency, science, and law. We already knew from her writings that she is no friend of the Affordable Care Act, and this week, she did nothing to reassure the 20 million Americans who rely on that law for care, or the millions more with pre-existing conditions, that she won’t vote to rip their care away when the ACA is back before the Court in a few weeks.

“Judge Barrett avoided question after question about Roe v. Wade, until she confirmed that unlike some other Supreme Court decisions, she sees Roe as a precedent that can be overturned. She said she does not have ‘firm views’ on the science of climate change or whether human activity is responsible for it. She refused to say whether separating children from their families at the border was wrong. She forgot that the right to peacefully protest is one of the five freedoms protected by the First Amendment in our Constitution—one that is, now more than ever, central to democracy. To top it off, she refused to say whether she believes a president can pardon themselves or delay an election.

“The only thing Judge Barrett seemed willing to explain was that she is a so-called originalist, meaning that when questions of competing constitutional values reach the Court, she will decide what people two centuries ago meant when they wrote those provisions. Recognize this: there was a huge range of opinions about what the Constitutional clauses meant at the time that they were written, and there have been many unresolved tensions from day one. While the Constitution spoke to the vision of freedom of opportunity and equality for all, it also embraced slavery and explicit discrimination on the basis of gender, race, and wealth. ‘Orginalism’ is really a cover story for continuing power by and for elite, wealthy Americans. We see this in their decisions in which they vote against civil rights, election integrity, worker and consumer rights, and environmental protection, while favoring corporate power and the wealthy in almost every instance.

“This process is the latest shameless power-grab by a president and Senate majority who cannot win majority support in elections and are instead rigging our economy, our politics, and our Supreme Court to hold power anyway. They want a 6-3 super-legislature that will lock in Republican rule and deliver for the wealthy and powerful. I will forcefully oppose this nomination and do everything in my power to restore the ‘We the People’ vision of our Constitution so America provides everyone with the dignity, opportunity, and justice we all deserve.”