WASHINGTON, D.C. — Oregon's two U.S. Senators, Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, made no secret of their opposition to Judge Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation to the Supreme Court on Monday. Their criticism was leveled as much at the process and the Republican Senate majority as it was at the new Justice.
“Senate Republicans have broken rules and shattered precedents to stack the Supreme Court with right-wing extremist justices," Sen. Merkley said in a statement immediately following Barret's confirmation. "Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, and the rest of the Senate Republicans are tearing apart our country to make the elites they represent even more wealthy and powerful, and the repercussions will echo for years to come."
Not only was Justice Ginsburg an iconic fighter for the rights of the powerless and vulnerable, she always said what she meant, and meant what she said. I cannot say the same for Judge Barrett, which is why I voted no on her nomination.— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) October 27, 2020
Democrats in the Senate, powerless to stop the whirlwind confirmation ahead of the election on November 3, have taken aim at many of the same Republican Senators who worked to block then-President Obama's nominee for the highest court, Judge Merrick Garland, in 2016.
Many years of precedent frowned on the confirmation of a new Justice during an election year as the American people "decide who they trust to both lead the country and nominate the next Supreme Court justice," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said alongside his Republican colleagues in a February, 2016 op-ed.
At the time, the still-outnumbered Senate Democrats argued against the idea of precedent as a sufficient reason to refuse hearings on a Supreme Court nominee.
Ultimately, "might makes right" — a majority in the Senate — appears to have been the only argument to stand the test of time.
"Senate Republicans may think they have won a great victory today, but by putting the insatiable thirst for power and wealth ahead of our We the People vision, they are undermining the forces that have held our country together," Merkley continued in his statement. "The American people will not and should not roll over while their hard work is discounted, their health is savaged, their votes are stolen, and their freedoms are compromised.”
Both Merkley and Sen. Ron Wyden pointed to the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) as a potential casualty of Barrett's confirmation — in addition to Roe V. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court case that establish a pregnant woman's right to choose to have an abortion "without excessive government restriction."
“The Republican agenda – throwing millions of Americans off their healthcare, overturning Roe and their myriad other priorities that threaten fundamental freedoms – is too unpopular to enact through legislation, so Republicans are working to enact it through the Courts. That’s really what the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett is all about," Wyden said.
“Senate Republicans have broken rules, violated their word and gamed the system in bad faith to pack the courts with far-right ideologues who will do their dirty work for them," Wyden continued. "They have done severe damage to the legitimacy and the independence of the judiciary in this country. We need to give serious consideration to any solution that can undo this damage and ensure that all Americans are guaranteed equal protection under the law. “