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On Monday the White House celebrated the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett, 48, to the Supreme Court—one month after a White House celebration of her nomination became a COVID-19 “superspreader” event that infected President Donald Trump and at least three dozen others, according to top US virus expert Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Barrett’s lifetime appointment comes a week before voting in the general election ends on Nov. 3, giving the court a decisive 6-3 conservative majority ahead of any election-related challenges.
Trump, who continues to make false claims of widespread voter fraud, has said he expects the court to decide the election’s outcome and wants Barrett on the bench to participate in any election-related cases that go before the justices. “This scam will be before the United States Supreme Court, and I think having a 4-4 situation is not a good situation,” Trump told reporters on Sept. 23. Nonpartisan experts say voter fraud does not exist. “We have not seen, historically, any kind of coordinated national voter fraud effort in a major election, whether it’s by mail or otherwise,” FBI Director Christopher Wray told Congress on Sept. 25.
During confirmation hearings, Barrett refused to answer questions regarding whether every president should make a commitment to the peaceful transfer of power, or whether she would recuse herself from a Trump election case.
Dark money groups have spent at least $27 million supporting Barrett, whose nomination was backed by the Federalist Society, a corporate-funded group that has helped oversee conservatives’ decades-long effort to reshape the courts to advance the interests of powerful corporations. The daughter of a Shell Oil Company lawyer, Barrett also refused to answer basic questions about climate change, prompting more than 70 climate and science journalists to write an op-ed opposing her confirmation. “Judge Coney Barrett has displayed a profound inability to understand the ecological crisis of our times, and in so doing she enables it,” the op-ed published in Rolling Stone said.
ICYMI: Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse used his entire allotted time during confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett to detail what he called a Republican party ‘scheme’ to deploy dark money in an effort to appoint conservative judges pic.twitter.com/U0lOHtWp1W— Reuters (@Reuters) October 18, 2020
Barrett has hardline stances on women’s right to choose, healthcare, gun rights, LGBTQ rights, and immigration. Barrett also consistently sided with police or prison guards accused of using excessive force, according to a Reuters review of cases she was involved in. Currently serving on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, she previously clerked for the late ultra-conservative Justice Antonin Scalia and, as the youngest justice on the court, is expected to serve for decades.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked hundreds of President Barack Obama’s judicial nominees. Barrett, who was appointed to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2016, filled one of 200 seats that remained vacant after Senate Republicans blocked Obama’s nomination for that position, Myra Selby, an African-American woman judge.
Barrett is expected to participate in arguments on Nov. 10 in a case in which Trump and Republican-led states are seeking to invalidate the Affordable Care Act. The 2010 healthcare law, also known as Obamacare, has helped 20 million Americans obtain medical insurance and barred private insurers from denying medical coverage to people with preexisting conditions.
Senate Democrats are expected to boycott the committee vote on Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination this morning. In their place, staff have set up posters of people who will be hurt by the overturning of the ACA. pic.twitter.com/A79l1J2fDa— Megan Mineiro (@MMineiro_CNS) October 22, 2020
Progressive and pro-choice groups called on the top ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, to resign after she failed to slow down Barrett’s confirmation process. At the confirmation hearings, she praised Sen. Lindsey Graham’s handling of the process and even embraced him in a maskless hug. According to a Morning Consult poll published Oct. 21, support for Barrett’s confirmation hit a new high during the process, with a majority of Americans in support.
A mask-free embrace between Feinstein and Graham to cap things off.— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) October 15, 2020
And the Amy Coney Barrett hearings are over. pic.twitter.com/3gJcpWpi5Z
The confirmation continues the judiciary’s rightward trajectory under Trump, which Democrats have been unable to halt. Democrats are facing increased pressure to expand the Supreme Court and reshape the judiciary if they win the Senate and the White House. A 6-3 conservative court could strike down any progressive legislation passed by a new administration.