WA state leaders echo divided Senate in reactions to Barrett’s confirmation
Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed to the Supreme Court late Monday by a deeply divided Senate, with Republicans overpowering Democrats to install President Donald Trump’s nominee days before the election and secure a likely conservative court majority for years to come.
Trump’s choice to fill the vacancy of the late liberal icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg potentially opens a new era of rulings on abortion, the Affordable Care Act, and even his own election. Democrats were unable to stop the outcome, Trump’s third justice on the court, as Republicans race to reshape the judiciary.
Monday’s vote was the closest high court confirmation ever to a presidential election, and the first in modern times with no support from the minority party. No other Supreme Court justice has been confirmed on a recorded vote with no support from the minority party in at least 150 years, according to information provided by the Senate Historical Office.
The vote was 52-48.
Democrats were unified against Barrett. While two Democratic senators voted to confirm Barrett in 2017 after Trump nominated the Notre Dame Law School professor to the appellate court, none voted to confirm her to the high court.
Only one Republican — Sen. Susan Collins, who is in a tight reelection fight in Maine — voted against the nominee, not over any direct assessment of Barrett. Rather, Collins said, “I do not think it is fair nor consistent to have a Senate confirmation vote prior to the election.”
Democrats argued for weeks that the vote was being improperly rushed and insisted during an all-night Sunday session it should be up to the winner of the Nov. 3 election to name the nominee.
Washington state’s own senators and representatives are similarly split down party lines in their reactions to Barrett’s confirmation.
Sen. Patty Murray and Sen. Maria Cantwell have both been outspoken against Barrett, on social media and when speaking to the Senate prior to the confirmation.
There are concerns among Democrats that Barrett could be the deciding vote on a number of major issues, including the Affordable Care Act, gay marriage, and abortion.
Cantwell echoed that Sunday while speaking on the Senate Floor, specifically citing health care and abortion as her primary worries.
“Someone wants to chip away at the rights of American women to have access to health care — my state is going to take it personally,” she said, pointing out that “a majority of Americans support a woman’s right to choose.”
Rep. Pramila Jayapal says this decision will be remembered.
“The injustice this country witnessed over the last 30 days will be remembered in history as exactly what it was: a disgraceful Republican power grab to use an illegitimate, rushed, hypocritical process to confirm a nominee whose dangerous views have not been thoroughly or fairly vetted to the highest court in our land just days before a Presidential election in which more than 60 million Americans have already voted,” Jayapal said.
“It is absolutely unacceptable that a nominee for a lifetime appointment who has such troubling positions on life-and-death issues would be rushed through, especially after Republicans outright refused to allow even a vote for Merrick Garland when he was nominated more than seven months before an election,” she added.
Representatives Denny Heck, Suzan DelBene, and Derek Kilmer all took to Twitter to share their thoughts on the Supreme Court confirmation.
Governor Jay Inslee also spoke out against Barrett’s confirmation, calling it a “sham process” that could put health care for 75,000 Washingtonians at risk, as well as risking women’s reproductive health care, marriage equality, and voting rights.
“Americans will not forget what is being done today,” the governor tweeted.
Echoing the divided Senate in Washington, D.C., the Republican Representatives in Washington state have been congratulating Barrett for her appointment to the Supreme Court.
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers called it “an historic day” in a tweet, adding that she “trusts Amy Coney Barrett will uphold the rule of law and defend our Constitution.”
It’s not clear the extraordinary effort to install the new justice over such opposition in a heated election year will pay political rewards to the GOP.
Demonstrations for and against the nominee have been more muted at the Capitol under coronavirus restrictions.
Associated Press writers Mary Clare Jalonick, Andrew Taylor, Mark Sherman, Zeke Miller and Aamer Madhani in Washington and Kathleen Ronayne in Sacramento, Calif., contributed to this report.