Americans deserve an impartial Supreme Court that puts judicial integrity, the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law above partisan interests.
But, unfortunately, President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have a different view of justice.
The two are rushing to fill the seat of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — a champion for all Americans’ constitutional rights and liberties — in the middle of a national election and a pandemic that has led to the deaths of over 200,000 Americans, millions losing their jobs and many people struggling to make ends meet as a result of Trump and McConnell’s failure of leadership.
For months, McConnell and Senate Republicans have failed to pass a COVID-19 relief package that meets the demands of the crisis.
Even as the House passed the HEROES Act in May, which would fund our hospitals, provide rent and mortgage relief, make sure everyone is counted in the 2020 Census, and provide funding to protect our elections and strengthen the U.S. Postal Service, McConnell has blocked the bill in the Senate.
After Trump and McConnell fumbled the COVID-19 response and denied economic relief to struggling Americans, they’re now prepared to ram through a Supreme Court nominee and ignore every democratic norm to do it.
It’s clear that when it comes to expanding its power and moving the Court further to the extremes, the Senate can work fast, but when it comes to helping the American people struggling, the Senate is a roadblock.
Mitch McConnell has shown he will rig the system to ram through nominees at any cost. Senate Republicans blocked President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court for nearly a year, paving the way for another conservative, Justice Neil Gorsuch.
Then, during the contentious confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh — who has been accused of sexual assault and may have lied under oath — Senate Republicans blocked witnesses and limited evidence for members of the Judiciary Committee to consider, thereby depriving the public of the full background on Kavanaugh.
A serious, transparent, and thorough Supreme Court vetting process must provide time for senators and their staffs to review thousands of documents, case law and a detailed FBI investigation about the nominee to fully judge their qualifications and potential vulnerabilities.
Frankly, given the tendency of President Trump to demand loyalty pledges from many of his appointees, it is important that no such demand is made of a potential Supreme Court justice. It will be important to hear whether the nominee can fairly sit in judgement of President Trump, who is the subject of many lawsuits and investigations.
Can the nominee apply the rule that no person, even the president, is above the law? What is the nominee’s view on the Supreme Court as a constitutional check and balance on our system?
The Senate playing partisan games with the nomination process is not the only reason many Americans are skeptical about the Court. Over the last decade, the Supreme Court has made numerous decisions that put wealthy donors and partisan interests ahead of everyday Americans.
The Court has repeatedly damaged our democracy in cases like Citizens United v. FEC that allowed more big money in politics; Shelby County v. Holder that gutted the Voting Rights Act; and Rucho v. Common Cause where the Court approved an outrageous partisan gerrymander at the expense of people’s right to equal representation and participation.
Now, Justice Ginsburg’s death comes at a time of increased polarization in an election year plagued by disinformation and a global pandemic. A rushed confirmation during the early voting period or lame duck Senate session after the election will only increase cynicism and further undermine the legitimacy of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Americans must demand that senators do their jobs to pass COVID-19 relief and stop this mockery of a confirmation process.
As early voting has already started in many states, now is the time for voters to make their voices heard and ensure they have a plan to vote. It’s how we determine what’s best for the future of our families, communities, country, and even our courts.
It’s how we can hold politicians accountable for abusing their powers and putting partisan interests ahead of what’s best for the country.
“Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you,” Justice Ginsburg once said. To honor her legacy and ensure there is justice for all in our courts and government, make sure that you vote this year.
The future of our democracy depends on it.