October 27, 2020

Amy Coney Barrett confirmed to Supreme Court, as New Mexico’s senators vote against

United States Supreme Court

U.S. Senate Republicans voted 52 to 48 to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who passed away Sept. 18.

President Donald Trump held a celebration at the White House Monday evening after the Senate vote and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas swore her in at the White House to the lifetime position.

Barrett’s confirmation received no support from Democrats who voiced their anger over her confirmation hearing over the weekend. All Democratic Senators voted against her, including both of those from New Mexico.

U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, both Democrats, spoke on the Senate floor Monday expressing their opposition to Barrett’s confirmation.

Udall called the Senate’s vote to confirm Barrett “shameful” because it came eight days before the election, when millions have already cast their ballot.

“This body has truly lost its way,” he said.

Udall spoke to the fact that the Republican-led Senate refused to consider Judge Merrick Garland, a nominee of PresidentBarack Obama, eight months before the 2016 election concluded.

“Why would Republicans so flagrantly violate their own rules – and violate the legitimacy of the Court and the Senate – for this nominee? To solve that mystery, we’ve actually got a clue. It’s on the Supreme Court’s schedule,” he said.

Udall was referring to California v. Texas, a case in which the Supreme Court will consider questions of parts of the Affordable Care Act’s constitutionality, and potentially, could overturn the entire ACA.

Related: Udall hears stories of New Mexicans who would be hurt by the loss of the Affordable Care Act

Heinrich called the confirmation process a “broken and nakedly political process,” and said that  Senate Republicans won’t negotiate another Coronavirus relief package, but “rammed” through Barrett to replace Ginsburg.

“Clearly, nothing – not even the lives and livelihoods of the American people—will get in the way of their (Senate Republicans) power grab designed to reward their biggest donors and the most extreme interests,” Heinrich said.

Related: Reaction to U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee vote to advance nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett

Other concerns, such as Barrett’s position on climate change, reproductive rights and what the impact could be for Native Americans if the Supreme Court overturns the ACA were additional issues over which both Udall and Heinrich expressed concerns.

Vicki Cowart, the President and CEO of the Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains Action Fund, called the confirmation “an insult to the legacy of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and a direct attack on our health rights.”

“With 17 abortion-related cases just one step from the Supreme Court, Barrett’s anti-abortion views could have a grave impact on abortion care access in this country,” she said in a statement. She also said the work to repeal New Mexico’s law banning abortion, that is not currently enforceable because of Roe v. Wade, was now more important.

Marshall Martinez, interim Executive Director for Equality New Mexico, told NM Political Report he was not surprised that the Senate confirmed Barrett.

“I am very disappointed that as we are continuing to see giant spikes in COVID-19 numbers across the country and the economic impact from this virus, this Senate has failed to do anything for folks in need at this time but rushed through in almost record time the confirmation of a bad judge,” Martinez said.

Barrett, who is 48, will likely be a Supreme Court justice for decades. She calls herself an “originalist” and has signed ads that called Roe v. Wade “barbaric.”

“This brings a whole new meaning to the words “lifetime appointment.” She will have a generation’s worth of impact. Because of her refusal to answer so many questions, so many Americans don’t understand she doesn’t represent the majority of voters in this country,” Martinez said.

What sort of position Barrett could take if the presidential election should be contested at the Supreme Court level is another concern that both Udall and Heinrich brought up in their speeches on the Senate floor Monday.

Udall said Trump and Senate Republicans are “telegraphing that they want the Supreme Court—not the voters—to decide this election.”

Heinrich said that “given that President Trump considers Barrett “his” justice, this creates a dangerous conflict of interest.”

Barrett’s confirmation will also impact the LGBTQ community for decades to come, Martinez said.

“Today it becomes even more clear the LGBTQ community and our allies are going to have to fight at the state level and the local level so much harder because we know we can’t rely on this new court to protect our hard won liberties,” Martinez said.

Republican Party of New Mexico chairman Steve Pearce, meanwhile, hailed the confirmation.

“Barrett is a judge of the highest caliber who will defend the principles of our Constitution and protect our liberties and freedoms,” Pearce said in a statement. “Barrett also brings a fresh viewpoint to the Supreme Court. She understands how to interpret the law and will be an integral part of Court decisions for generations.”

According to CBS News, the Supreme Court is considering a petition on Friday from Mississippi’s Attorney General to review the state’s 15-week abortion ban. 

Martinez said this has been “a concerted effort by the right wing to undermine bodily autonomy.”

“We all know how rushed this confirmation was. As a result, this puts in danger all of those liberties that are so important,” Martinez said.