Civil rights groups were sounding the alarm over fear that hard-fought advances in equality and justice will be lost for at least a generation with President Donald Trump’s next Supreme Court pick.
In a joint statement issued Thursday morning, a coalition of organizations, including the National Action Network and National Urban League, urged “all citizens of good conscience” to call their U.S. senators and demand that the Republican-controlled Senate wait until after the midterm elections to confirm the next high court justice.
“The Senate is divided by a single vote. The need for a strong system of checks and balances has seldom been greater,” the statement added.
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who has served on the Supreme Court for 30 years, announced Wednesday that he would be retiring from the bench. The 81-year-old judge had a record of voting with liberal justices from time-to-time. Hi exit gives Trump and conservative lawmakers a golden opportunity to make the court solidly conservative for a generation. Kennedy’s last day was scheduled for July 31, according to a press release issued by the Supreme Court.
Kennedy’s announcement came as civil rights groups were already reeling following recent high court decisions.
On Tuesday, the court ruled in favor of the president’s travel ban against predominantly Muslim countries. And one day earlier, the justices handed Republicans a victory in gerrymandering cases in North Carolina and Texas that voting rights advocates said were intended to suppress the minority vote.
Meanwhile, the Democrats appeared powerless to stop the Republicans from confirming Trump’s pick. Their only move was convincing GOP leaders to delay the confirmation process until after the November elections, in the hope that the Democrats retake the Senate. But it was highly unlikely, to put it mildly, that Republicans would ever agree to something like that.
The names on the president’s shortlist of potential nominees have failed to show a “commitment to equal justice and civil rights” during their career, according to a separate statement from the NAACP, which also called for confirmation hearings to be held after the midterm elections.
“For the good of the American people, we urge the president and the Senate to carefully exercise their respective roles under the Constitution in light of the consequential impact of this nomination on our democracy,” the statement added.