Only a handful of Democrats were able to make opening statements Monday, leading into confirmation hearings for Amy Coney Barrett, whom President Donald Trump nominated to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) made the most of his precious few minutes.
In a statement made directly to Barrett, Leahy told the Supreme Court nominee — a law professor, federal Circuit Court judge, wife, and mother — that confirming her to the highest court in the land would be “harmful” to women.
“I’ve heard from them often and loudly since Justice Ginsburg’s passing,” Leahy began “They’re scared that your confirmation would rip the healthcare protections that millions of Americans have fought to maintain and which Congress has repeatedly rejected. They are scared that the clock will be turned back to a time when women had no right to control their own bodies and when it was acceptable to discriminate against women in the workplace.”
“They’re scared that a time we’re facing the perilous impacts of climate change, bedrock protections will be eviscerated,” he railed. “And they are scared that your confirmation will result in the rolling back of voting rights, workers’ rights, and the rights of the LGBTQ community to equal treatment.”
Leahy was one of the few Senators to take aim at Barrett’s potential positions on issues like abortion and gay marriage; most Democrats, fearing that Republicans might use public complaints about Barrett’s faith and family as political fodder, tried to steer the conversation towards the Affordable Care Act, which they’re convinced Barrett could help gut in her first weeks on the court.
Sen. Kamala Harris, the current vice presidential candidate railed at Senate Republicans rather than Barrett, taking them to task for allegedly skipping negotiations on a coronavirus relief package in order to hold confirmation hearings. Of course, Democrats have long since filibustered Senate Republicans coronavirus relief efforts, and negotiations are now taking place largely between the White House and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), not the Senate.
Others demanded that Barrett either reveal how she would vote on issues of healthcare — something judges typically do not do — or pledge to recuse herself from upcoming oral arguments on the constitutionality of certain aspects of the Affordable Care Act.
Although he seemed pleased with his criticism, Leahy quickly met with resistance online. Leaders of conservative women’s organizations were quick to point out that Leahy was accusing Barrett of turning back the clock on women’s rights while ignoring that she is a successful jurist and mother of seven.
“Sen. Leahy says he’s worried if Judge Barrett is confirmed, we’ll go back to a time where women can be discriminated against in the workplace,” Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser tweeted. “Is he unaware of who he is interviewing to fill the vacant seat? A highly-successful working mom of school-age children.”