Civil rights leaders along with other people and groups opposed to the U.S. Supreme Court confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett were seemingly left with no other options but to shake their heads in disgust and disappointment that the president was successfully able to both rush and politicize the process just one week before Election Day.
The now-former 7th Circuit Court of Appeals judge was sworn-in Monday night on the South Lawn of the White House by Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas with her husband and Donald Trump beside them just a few short hours after the Republican-led Senate finished pushing through her nomination in record time. Many civil rights leaders found it to be an egregious affront against democracy not only that Barrett was filling the Supreme Court seat left vacant by Ruth Bader Ginsburg‘s death but also that the newly-installed justice could end up being Trump’s tool to secure his victory for an election in which 60 million people have already voted.
“Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination and confirmation to the United States Supreme Court is especially troubling because of its timing. Justice Barrett was nominated by President Trump during an election in which he is running for reelection and now she is going to be deciding cases that could affect the result of the election,” Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said in an emailed statement. Clarke went on to say that Barrett’s confirmation “does damage to both the integrity of the Supreme Court and the election process” and will have devastating effects on underserved communities.
“Judge Barrett has refused to acknowledge the fact that voter discrimination is still ongoing, and could not concede that voter intimidation is illegal. These are issues playing out in this election at this very moment and may also come before the Court in the weeks and months ahead. Barrett’s record makes clear that she will turn the clock back when it comes to access to democracy,” Clarke added.
Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP, issued a blistering statement that called Barrett’s confirmation “a travesty of justice” that will have serious consequences for generations to come.
“As the coronavirus is increasing in intensity and reach, African Americans are still bearing the brunt, in lives and livelihoods lost,” Johnson said in part. “The Senate’s move to fill this seat at the expense of addressing the urgent needs of the American people is a dereliction of duty of the highest order.” He added, “Barrett will be a disaster for civil rights on the Court and cited her record as proof of his claims.
“Her repeated endorsement of discrimination in the workplace—including the shocking conclusions that separate can be equal when it comes to race, that use of racial epithets does not necessarily create a hostile work environment, and that longstanding civil rights enforcement tools can be severely restricted—mark a clear willingness to jettison longstanding civil rights precedents,” Johnson said.
North Carolina Rep. Alma S. Adams all but echoed the above concerns and said Republicans have failed the American people by prioritizing politics during a pandemic that has killed more than 220,000 people.
“Unfortunately, President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s perverse priorities are on display for all to witness tonight,” Adams said in a brief statement. “The Affordable Care Act is now in danger when the American people need health care most. The United States Senate has failed the American people: economic stimulus, increased unemployment benefits, aid to state and local governments, paycheck protection: all of these have fallen to the wayside in service of the Barrett confirmation. There is nothing in this appointment for the vast majority of Americans except for pain and suffering.”
New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams spoke in no uncertain terms when he looked toward a Supreme Court with Barrett helping to decide cases that are likely to adversely affect the diverse communities that he serves.
“This action by Republican Senators and the Trump administration is among the most grotesque embraces of hypocrisy in order to grab at power in recent history, and history will condemn it as its corrosive impact on our country reverberates for decades,” Williams said. “Because this confirmation isn’t solely about accumulating power, it’s about using that power to oppress marginalized groups – and not just to block progress, but undo it on issues of reproductive freedom, LGBTQ rights, racial justice, healthcare access, labor protections, and countless other areas.”
Williams used the moment to encourage people to continue voting.
“This is yet another gut-wrenching reminder that no matter one’s feelings about the politics of the moment, a single election can have devastating decades-long consequences,” he added.
People For the American Way President Ben Jealous also urged people to join the already-record turnout for early voting to make sure something like this never happens again.
“For every American whose home-state senator voted to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, we have one message: vote them out,” Jealous, former president of the NAACP, said. “Vote them out, whether your opportunity comes in the next few days or in two years, because they don’t care about you.”
Jealous called out the Senate’s role in all but aiding and abetting Trump’s re-election campaign.
“They voted to disenfranchise millions of people, in the event Donald Trump refuses to accept electoral defeat and seeks help from his appointees on the Supreme Court,” Jealous said. “They voted to turn back the clock on LGBTQ rights, racial equity, reproductive rights and workers’ rights. But we don’t have to stand for it, because we get the final say at the ballot box. And we will make our voices heard.”
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