Since when did Republicans urge the Senate to listen to the Democrats?
Since 22 Republican attorneys general unearthed extensive Democratic comments urging that even in an election year, the process of confirming a Supreme Court justice should move forward promptly, and packaged those comments in a letter to Senate leaders urging fast action on President Donald Trump’s nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.
If confirmed, Barrett, an originalist, would join a bloc of four justices generally seen as conservatives. With the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the court’s liberal wing has shrunk to three justices.
Chief Justice John Roberts, who was appointed to the court by Republican President George W. Bush, had emerged as a swing vote when the court’s liberal and conservative wings were deadlocked. However, if Barrett is confirmed, conservatives could have an outright majority whichever way Roberts swings.
To prevent that, Senate Democrats are claiming the looming election is a valid reason to put the confirmation process off until next year. Their hope is that Trump will be defeated and Democratic challenger Joe Biden will nominate Ginsburg’s successor.
Today, it was my great honor to nominate one of our nation’s most brilliant and gifted legal minds to the Supreme Court. She is a woman of unparalleled achievement, towering intellect, sterling credentials, and unyielding loyalty to the Constitution: Judge Amy Coney Barrett… pic.twitter.com/l2yezt2UOi
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 27, 2020
Adhering to the adage that turnabout is fair play, the attorneys general of Louisiana, Indiana, Georgia, Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and West Virginia sent a letter Wednesday telling Senate leaders to act promptly on Barrett’s nomination.
Along the way, the attorneys general cited Democrats to explain their reasoning.
To buttress their case, they quoted a 2016 letter from Democratic attorneys general in 19 states, including New York and California, who were urging that a confirmation hearing for Judge Merrick Garland, former President Barack Obama’s nominee to succeed the late Justice Antonin Scalia, be held in that presidential election year.
“The Constitution clearly sets out the process for filling a Supreme Court vacancy. The President has a duty to make a nomination,” the 2016 Democratic letter said.
The Democratic officials said in 2016 that the Senate “has the responsibility to consider and approve or disapprove the nomination. While simple, this is the law and it should be followed.”
The 2016 letter noted that “since 1900, six justices have been confirmed during election years, including Justice Anthony Kennedy, who was confirmed in the final year of the Reagan Administration.”
The letter from the Republican attorneys general also pointed out that time, as well as precedent, is on Barrett’s side.
“Justice Ginsburg herself was confirmed 42 days after she was nominated. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s confirmation took 33 days, while Justice John Paul Stevens was confirmed 19 days after he was nominated. As the New York Times reported in 2016, ‘on average, a nominee has been confirmed, rejected, or withdrawn within 25 days,'” the new letter said.
A vote by any Senator to confirm Judge Barrett is a vote to terminate the Affordable Care Act and overturn a woman’s right to choose.
Democrats are fighting for Americans’ health care and women’s rights. https://t.co/rpaHX2mSOX
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) October 1, 2020
Addressing fear-mongering about what a conservative court majority might mean for issues such as abortion, the GOP attorneys general noted that Barrett said in 2017 — after being nominated to her current Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals judgeship — that “she has ‘rejected throughout my entire career the proposition that the end justifies the means or that a judge should decide cases based on a desire to reach a certain outcome.'”
The attorneys general reminded Senate leaders that the court’s rulings have far-reaching consequences beyond the Beltway.
“As the chief legal officers for our States, we have an obligation to our citizens to ensure that the federal government respects the principles of federalism and separation of powers embodied in the United States Constitution,” they wrote.
“As guardians of the Constitution, Supreme Court Justices bear a special responsibility to prevent the other branches of the federal government from encroaching on individual liberties and the States’ power to provide for the health, education, and welfare of their people.
“From Judge Barrett’s stated views of the law and her opinions from the bench, we are confident that she understands this responsibility and will work to safeguard the constitutional framework our Founding Fathers intended.
“Indeed, Judge Barrett’s judicial opinions display a robust commitment to interpreting the Constitution based on its original meaning,” the letter read.
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