President Donald Trump's nomination Saturday of Seventh Circuit Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court sparked a chorus of outrage from Democrats and progressive groups who warned her confirmation could shift the court to one that would dismantle the Affordable Care Act and "work to preserve the Trump agenda for decades to come."
"To maintain security, liberty and prosperity, we must preserve our priceless heritage of a nation of laws," Trump said during the Rose Garden announcement. "And there's no one better to do that than Amy Coney Barrett."
In her remarks at the ceremony, 48-year-old Barrett praised her former mentor, the late right-wing Justice Antonin Scalia, saying that "his judicial philosophy is mine too."
Republicans, who refused to hold hearings for President Barack Obama's SCOTUS election year nominee Merrick Garland, have already set up a lightning fast timeline for a confirmation vote to replace the seat held by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, reportedly as soon as Oct. 29. That's despite new polling showing a majority of Americans want the seat filled after Election Day.
Trump critics say the swift timeline and Barrett's voting record mean issues including access to healthcare and ballots and reproductive and LGBTQ rights—as well as the outcome of the presidential election—are under immediate threat.
In an op-ed published Friday at the Washington Post, David Cole, national legal director of the ACLU and a professor at Georgetown University Law Center, wrote that if Barrett is confirmed, "the resulting shift [to the Supreme Court] will be tectonic."
The change would "fundamentally alter the court's ideological balance, giving it six conservatives and three liberals," wrote Cole, who pointed to major rulings in the past decade that were decided in narrow 5-4 rulings, including the United States v. Windsor marriage equality case.
The top court is already scheduled to begin hearing arguments in a case challenging the legality of Obamacare November 10.
"Trump's nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett means yet another ultra-conservative jurist could be confirmed to a lifetime term on the court—and that is unacceptable," Stand Up America founder and president Sean Eldridge said in a statement Saturday.
"The American people see this rushed process for what it is," said Eldridge. "An attempt to cement a right-wing supermajority on the highest court in order to dismantle the Affordable Care Act in the middle of a pandemic and overturn Roe v. Wade."
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who made Medicare for All a pillar of his presidential bids, also warned that millions more Americans could join the ranks of the uninsured if Barrett is confirmed.
"President Trump and Senate Republicans have badly mismanaged a deadly pandemic for months. Now, in the midst of an unprecedented public health crisis, they are willing to ram through a Supreme Court nominee—within days—who will vote to destroy the Affordable Care Act, kick millions of Americans off their healthcare, and eliminate protections for millions more who have preexisting conditions," said Sanders.
"This is an absolute outrage," he said.
According to advocacy group Indivisible, "Barrett is a conservative's dream to fill RBG's seat." In a Twitter thread following her formal nomination, the group highlighted parts of Barrett's voting record to show why she is "a truly horrifying pick":
Writing at Intelligencer, Sarah Jones likened Barrett to Equal Rights Amendment foe Phyllis Schlafly to emphasize the Trump nominee's far-reaching threats. Jones wrote Saturday:
For all the power the right wing is about to hand her, though, Barrett has indeed chosen a self-limiting ideology, and not just because of her views on Roe. Conservative women aren't interested solely in abolishing abortion, or in limiting the scope of modern gender equality laws. Schlafly was an anti-communist who belonged to the John Birch Society before she ever campaigned against the ERA. Her anti-feminism comprised one strand of a comprehensively dangerous ideology. The women who serve the Trump administration aren't much different, and neither is Barrett. A Supreme Court justice with right-wing perspectives on labor, the environment, immigration, and criminal justice can harm women from all backgrounds in all aspects of their lives. That is the intention, and not the accidental byproduct, of constitutional originalism. As embraced by jurists like Barrett and her old boss, Antonin Scalia, originalism is its own dogma; the extension of a political theology committed to an older and more exclusionary version of America.
Barrett understands all that. She's exactly as intelligent as her advocates say, and she's made all her choices with a sound mind. Her reward is power. If she's confirmed by the Senate, she'll be able to finish what Schlafly once started. She could help lock in Trump for another four years. She'll be able to deal democracy and yes, the feminist movement the blows the Christian right has dreamed of landing for years.
In light of what's at stake, Barrett's critics are calling on senators, Democrats and Republicans alike, to refuse to vote on a replacement for RBG's seat until after the election.
"The nomination of arch-conservative Judge Amy Coney Barrett should alarm anyone who cares about the future of this country," said Healey and Rosenblum, warning that "healthcare, marriage equality, the right to abortion, worker protections, access to the ballot box, and so much more" is on the line.
"To every member of the Senate: find your backbone, buck McConnell, and let the people vote first," they said.
People For the American Way president Ben Jealous directed his attention to Republican senators, asking in a statement: "Will they follow Trump and Mitch McConnell over the cliff in ramming this disastrous nomination through? Or will they stand up for their constituents who want their healthcare protected and expanded during this pandemic, and the millions of Americans who could lose coverage for preexisting conditions?"
"It comes down to this," said Jealous. "Senators who ignore the will of the people so they can put another nail in the coffin of healthcare are putting another nail in the coffins of their own constituents. Come November, voters will remember this betrayal."