October 26, 2020

Warren Delivers Floor Speech Opposing Barrett Nomination to the Supreme Court

“Just 8 days—8 days— before the election when tens of millions of Americans have already cast their ballots, and just 15 days before the Supreme Court will hear a case that could overturn the Affordable Care Act, Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, and their Republican buddies are shoving aside the wishes of the American people in order to steal this Supreme Court seat.”

Watch here 

Washington, DC - Tonight, United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) delivered remarks on the floor speaking out against the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to serve on the United States Supreme Court and the Republicans attempt to ram through a Supreme Court nomination 8 days before the election. The full text of her remarks is available below.

Remarks by Senator Elizabeth Warren

October 25, 2020

A little over one month ago, I came to the floor to honor the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: a trailblazer, an icon, and a friend. I shared what she meant as a personal hero for me and as a role model for millions of other women. I discussed her groundbreaking work, and how much of what she fought for is now on the line. And I talked about the message Ruth left before she died, stating her “most fervent wish” that her replacement not be named “until a new president is installed.”

It’s been 37 days since Ruth died. I miss her. America misses her. It’s also been 37 days since Mitch McConnell declared he would disregard Ruth’s “most fervent wish" and move ahead with a corrupt and illegitimate process to fill her seat on the Supreme Court. Just 8 days—8 days—before the election when tens of millions of Americans have already cast their ballots, and just 15 days before the Supreme Court will hear a case that could overturn the Affordable Care Act, Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, and their Republican buddies are shoving aside the wishes of the American people in order to steal this Supreme Court seat.

Mitch McConnell and the Senate Republicans violated the long-established rules of the Judiciary Committee to rush their nominee through, giving each other a wink and a nod before they turned a blind eye to their own rule-breaking. They even violated the rule Mitch McConnell made up in order to keep one of President Obama’s nominees off the Court long before anyone was voting: No confirmations of justices in an election year.

So they made up rules, then they broke those same rules. They cheated. Why? Why was it so important that they were willing to turn their backs on the very rules they had put in place? Why rush through this nomination? Why? Because the Republican Party is scared they can’t win through the democratic process.  Scared that they can’t win by playing by the rules. That they can’t win when the American people decide the outcome. That they can’t win when elections matter.  

What we’re seeing today is the last gasp of a desperate party. A party working to undermine our democracy so that they can keep pushing their extremist agenda just a little longer. A party that doesn’t reflect the views of the majority of Americans or the values that we hold dear. 

This is a party beholden to billionaires and extremists that is desperate to keep its grasp on power and willing to break any rule, any precedent, or any principle to hold onto that power just a little longer. 

The Republican Senators bat down every concern. No Supreme Court nominee has been confirmed this close to a presidential election? They say, “No problem.” Republican Senators plunge ahead with an illegitimate nomination made by a morally bankrupt president. 

The Rose Garden ceremony to celebrate the nomination turns into a coronavirus superspreader event? Republican Senators brush it off. Republican Senators will press ahead with hearings while members of the Judiciary Committee are in quarantine and some of them refuse to get tested. 

Hundreds of thousands of Americans are dead and millions are waiting for the federal government to finally show up and fight this pandemic? Republican Senators say: Sorry, no time. Senate Republicans have better things to do than pass a relief package – things like steal a Supreme Court seat.

Here’s the ugly truth: Donald Trump and his Republican buddies know that confirming Amy Coney Barrett to the nation’s highest court is their path to advance an extremist agenda, long after the country is fed up and disgusted with their failures. In the middle of an election, in the depths of a pandemic, their extremist agenda is all that matters, and that’s why they are so desperate to ram her nomination through the Senate.

The confirmation hearings were a sham. The conclusion was foregone and the nominee spent days ducking and dodging legitimate questions about where she stands on issues of crucial importance to the American people. It was little more than a PR stunt.

But what the nominee refused to say was actually very informative:

She refused to say whether the ruling upholding the right to contraception was correct.

She refused to say whether the government can criminalize a same-sex relationship.

She refused to say whether it’s wrong to separate children from their parents in order to deter immigration.

She even refused to say whether climate change is happening and whether it poses a threat to human beings.

This was no hearing. This was a farce. 

Barrett’s attempt to remain silent on key issues spoke volumes. It shows that she believes these critical rights, protections, and values are debatable -- up for grabs. And Barrett’s refusal to embrace these commonsense values shows just how out of step, how extreme Barrett is and will continue to be if she’s confirmed.

Let’s be real: We already know what Barrett is all about. We know why corporate interests and right-wing zealots are so excited about her, why so many Republicans will vote to confirm her, and why Trump—who has handed the judiciary over to the Federalist Society—has nominated her. It is because she will advance their extremist conservative agenda.  So her question-dodging isn’t a problem for them; it’s part of their strategy to get her on the Court. 

They know where she stands, and so do the American people. We already know because her record is clear. Take reproductive rights. President Trump pledged to nominate Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe. Listen to him. He said he would only appoint someone who would overturn Roe. And then he picked Barrett.  

In 2006, Barrett signed a newspaper ad calling for the end of Roe and describing Roe as “barbaric.” 

She was a member of an anti-choice group while on the University of Notre Dame faculty. 

And how will she overturn Roe?  After all, Roe is the current law of the land. But Barrett has that all worked out. She holds a dangerously radical view on legal precedent. In a 2013 law review article, she suggested that the Supreme Court is not strictly bound by precedent, and that public debate about Roe leaves open the possibility of overruling it. To state it plainly: Barrett believes women cannot be trusted to make decisions about their own bodies. She is a clear and present danger to Roe.

When it comes to the Affordable Care Act, again, listen to Trump himself. He said he would only nominate judges who will end the ACA law—judges who would take away health care coverage from millions of Americans. He picked Barrett. Barrett’s record indicates that’s exactly what she will do: work to gut key provisions that protect millions of Americans. She criticized Chief Justice Roberts’ opinion in 2012 upholding a critical part of the ACA, saying that he “pushed the Affordable Care Act beyond its plausible meaning to save the statute.” 

In a media interview in 2015, she said that in another Supreme Court decision that upheld the ACA, the dissenting justices who wanted to overturn the ACA had the “better of the legal argument.” While claiming just to follow the text of the law, Barrett’s record shows that her purported “textualist” approach is a façade—merely a cover for her to reach a result that will further the interests of those with money and power.

Now, Barrett’s record isn’t just cringe-worthy, it’s downright alarming. On November 10, just one week after Election Day, the Supreme Court will hear a case that will determine the fate of the Affordable Care Act. And right now, 17 cases that could undermine the right to abortion care are one step away from the Supreme Court. Twenty-one states are ready to go: They have already drafted laws they can pass immediately, laws that could be used to restrict abortion in the case Roe is overturned.  

And it’s not just reproductive rights and access to health care that are on the line. Trump and his Republican enablers want a justice who will rubber-stamp Trump’s racist and xenophobic attacks on immigrants, from ripping away protections for our Dreamers to rewriting the Census. Once again, this is exactly what Donald Trump told us he’d do after he lost earlier court cases.

Trump and his Republican enablers also want a justice who will turn back the clock even more on workers’ rights. Trump wants a justice who will erode workers’ abilities to join together and fight for fair pay and working conditions, and to push back against employment discrimination. We know this is what they want because those are the policies the Trump Administration has pursued, and what Barrett’s anti-worker record tells us that she will do.

And there’s another thing about Barrett’s record that deserves special attention, just 8 days before the election.

Trump and his Republican enablers want a justice who will strip away voting rights—especially from communities of color and marginalized communities. Trump wants a Supreme Court justice to help undermine our democracy. We know this because Trump already told us his game plan to do it.

Trump and his Republican enablers are working to make voting as difficult, confusing, and scary as possible, and they’re using every tool in order to do it. Trump has lied repeatedly about mail-in voting. He's falsely claimed that it’s the source of rampant fraud. Trump’s lawyers have sued states that have taken action to help Americans vote safely during this pandemic by expanding vote-by-mail. And at the same time, Trump and his cronies are working to dismantle the U.S. Postal Service, slowing down mail delivery and creating even more barriers to the ballot at a critical moment in this election.

We’ve all seen the President’s reckless, dangerous statements over the past few months casting doubt on the election itself, peddling the fact-free claim that this election will be “the most rigged” in American history and that he is “not sure” that the election results will be accurate. 

Most alarming of all, Trump has repeatedly refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power and said that he won’t accept the election results if he doesn’t win.

And as her confirmation hearing shows, Barrett is just the justice Donald Trump is looking for. In her hearing, Barrett refused to recuse herself in a case that might decide the outcome of the election, and she refused to say whether she believes that a president should commit to the peaceful transfer of power. She also refused to say whether voter intimidation is illegal--which it is--whether the president can unilaterally delay an election--which it cannot--and whether the Constitution empowers Congress to protect the right to vote--which it does.

The stakes have never been higher for our democracy.

On one issue after another, on one right after another, Trump and his Republican enablers have made it clear that they want a court that will bend backwards even further for the wealthy and well-connected while running roughshod over everyone else. They want a court that will keep them in power even when voters have had enough of their fear-mongering and division and graft. And Barrett is their choice to do just that.

That’s why this vote is so critical.

A vote for Barrett is a vote to strip health care from millions of people. It’s a vote to turn back the clock on reproductive freedom. To endanger Dreamers and immigrants. To let climate change rampage unchecked. To imperil efforts to address systemic racism. To place workers’ rights, voting rights, LGBTQ rights, and gun violence prevention at risk.

Ultimately, it’s also a vote to rubber stamp an illegitimate process carried out against the wishes of much of the nation – and against the backdrop of a deadly crisis that Senate Republicans have ignored as Americans have died.

Let’s be very clear: if Trump and Republicans succeed in ramming this nomination through, the American people will expect us to use every tool we have to undo the damage and restore the Court’s integrity.

I’m under no illusions here. Democrats have fought tooth and nail, but the Republicans control the Senate. The reason the Republicans are willing to break every rule to jam through an illegitimate nomination 8 days before the election is that they have realized a truth that shakes them down to their core: the American people are not on their side. 

People all over this country are fighting to reclaim our democracy. They are registering to vote – and they are voting. They are voting like never before. They are speaking out and telling their stories. They are fighting for a democracy that works for all of us, not just for the privileged few. And they will continue to fight until they’ve taken our democracy back from those who have worked around the clock to undermine it.