WASHINGTON — Democrats quickly coalesced around opposition to President Donald Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court on Saturday, painting the nominee as a threat to policies that Democrats favor.
One Democratic senator — Connecticut's Richard Blumenthal, who is a member of the Judiciary Committee — said he would not meet with Barrett, as is customary for members of the committee, in protest of Trump’s decision to rush ahead with the nomination so close to an election.
“I refuse to treat this process as legitimate and will not meet with Judge Barrett,” Blumenthal said in a statement.
Recent Supreme Court nominations have become increasingly partisan, and the decision by Republican leaders to press ahead with replacing Ruth Bader Ginsburg only weeks before a presidential election is likely to make the process more contentious.
Ginsburg’s death a week ago and Trump’s race to replace her has galvanized Democratic activists and voters. In the past week alone, Democrats raised more than $300 million through their online donation hub ActBlue, according to an analyst who tracks party fundraising.
Setting the message for his party, former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, criticized Barrett's comments on health care laws and said she would be likely to reverse the Affordable Care Act.
Biden and other Democrats objected to both the process and substance of Trump’s pick, focusing on the potential impacts to the Affordable Care Act, which will come before the court again a week after the election thanks to a Republican-backed lawsuit.
“President Trump has been trying to throw out the Affordable Care Act for four years. Republicans have been trying to end it for a decade. Twice, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the law as constitutional,” Biden said in a statement.
“She has a written track record of disagreeing with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision upholding the Affordable Care Act,” Biden continued. “The American people know the U.S. Supreme Court decisions affect their everyday lives.”
Barrett will need to be confirmed by the Senate, but she received an ice-cold reception from Democratic members of the upper chamber. A rule change by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell means she will not need the backing of any Democrats.
"Justice Ginsburg’s dying wish was that she not be replaced until a new president is installed. Republicans are poised to not only ignore her wishes, but to replace her with someone who could tear down everything that she built,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York. “I will strongly oppose this nomination."
Democrats also focused on the potential impact on abortion rights, arguing that Trump wants someone who will overturn existing protections on abortion, including the Roe v. Wade ruling. In previous legal writings, Barrett has argued the landmark decision could be overturned.
“We knew even before this nomination that President Trump’s litmus test for any Supreme Court nominee is a requirement that they help overturn Roe v. Wade,” Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkely said in a statement.
And Democrats warned that Barrett could be the decisive vote in any potential election issues if confirmed in time, arguing Trump is essentially appointing his own referees to oversee the contest.
“The president expects her to support any challenge he mounts to the election results,” said Hawaii Sen. Mazie K. Hirono, who was one of only two senators to vote against Barrett’s nomination to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2017.
Even Joe Manchin of West Virginia, the most centrist member of the Democratic caucus, raised strong objections and said there’s no way he would vote for her before the election.
“Rushing to confirm a Supreme Court nominee weeks before a presidential election has never been done before in the history of our nation and it will only fan the flames of division,” Manchin said in a statement. “I cannot support a process that risks further division of the American people at a time when we desperately need to come together.”
Elizabeth Warren, the progressive from Massachusetts, joined Blumenthal in trying to delegitimize the selection of Barrett by arguing that neither Trump nor the Senate having the backing of a majority of Americans.
“This sleazy Supreme Court double-dealing is the last gasp of a corrupt Republican leadership, numb to its own hypocrisy. The last gasp of a billionaire-fueled party that's undemocratically over-represented and desperately clinging to power in order to impose its extremist agenda,” Warren said on Twitter.
A coalition of liberal groups that support abortion rights and judicial reform plan to hold a rally outside the Supreme Court Sunday afternoon to protest the process and oppose any confirmation to the court before the presidential inauguration in January.