Wyden, Merkley react after Senate OKs Supreme Court nominee
Oregon's U.S. senators, both Democrats, weighed in after the Senate cast a mostly party-line vote Monday, Oct. 26, to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.
Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden had announced weeks earlier they would oppose her nomination. The vote took place eight days before the Nov. 3 presidential election. Both said a successor to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Sept. 18, should have awaited the election.
The vote was 52-48. The lone Republican to join 47 Democrats and independents was Susan Collins of Maine, who is facing a tough reelection campaign.
Merkley conducted a conference call earlier and got into an exchange with Lars Larson, a conservative talk-show radio host in Portland.
Wyden's post-vote statement follows:
"The Republican agenda — throwing millions of Americans off their health care, 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.
"This rush job to fill the Ginsburg seat has been illegitimate from the beginning, and it was proven to be a sham when Judge Barrett turned out to be the Babe Ruth of ducking and dodging simple questions during her nomination hearing. Justice Ginsburg was not just an iconic fighter for the rights of the powerless and vulnerable. She always said what she meant, and meant what she said. We did not get that from Judge Barrett.
"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. 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."
Merkley's post-vote statement follows:
"Senate Republicans have broken rules and shattered precedents to stack the Supreme Court with right-wing extremist justices. 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.
"The goal of this nomination is clear. For years, this impeached president and out-of-touch Senate Republicans have been angling to tear the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to shreds. Having failed in Congress, they've turned to the courts over and over again. In a video Donald Trump released himself last week, he even said, plain and simple, that he'd like to see the Supreme Court overturn the ACA. And now the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett brings that twisted wish one key step closer to becoming reality. A Trump-backed lawsuit to throw out the entire law will be before the court just two weeks from now.
"Quality, affordable health care was on the ballot today. If the court strikes down the ACA, 20 million Americans will lose their health care; millions of Americans will lose protections for preexisting conditions; every American will lose their health care bill of rights. Reproductive rights, including the right to birth control and IVF, were also on the ballot. So were Americans' rights to vote, to live in a clean and healthy environment, to marry the person you love and to be protected from discrimination in schools, workplaces, stores and restaurants.
"The majority of my colleagues voted today to strip away people's health care and freedoms, unleash bigotry and discrimination and hand out free passes for huge corporations, mega-polluters and election-riggers. They voted to make sure our government is not, in fact, of, by and for the people.
"Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, and their loyal followers in the Senate are complicit in a disturbing, 30-year-long long scheme — propped up by hundreds of millions of dollars in contributions from radical dark money groups — to rig our courts in favor of the powerful and privileged. These elites and the Republican politicians who work for them are, not surprisingly, unable to persuade the American people that they are best served by allowing a tiny number of people to get impossibly wealthy while ordinary Americans struggle. Or by building a health care system designed to make pharmaceutical and insurance companies money instead of keeping Americans healthy. Or by perpetuating systemic racism that gives more power and opportunity and wealth and security to white Americans than people of color. So they have rigged the courts to overturn or gut laws they don't like and undermine Americans' ability to vote so Republicans can hang on to power despite the voters' preferences.
"I believe in the first three words of our Constitution: We the People. The vision of equality and opportunity and justice that underlies those words has been a beacon inspiring Americans for 233 years. Those three words have challenged generations of patriots to shine a light on our country's deep failings and prompt us to do better. That vision is more powerful than the twisted corruption of government by and for the powerful that today's vote represents. 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. 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."
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