As the US Senate confirmed Donald Trump’s pick Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court, many top Democratic senators warned that their Republican colleagues may rue the day they decided to force through the nomination with just over a week to go before the presidential election.
Democrat Senator Chuck Schumer said Monday will go down as one of the “darkest days in the Senate's history” as Senate Republicans are “breaking 231 years of precedent and becoming the first majority to confirm a Supreme Court Justice this close to a presidential election day”.
“The Senate GOP is thwarting the will of the people and confirming a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court in the middle of a presidential election,” said Mr Schumer, adding that Republicans “may regret this for a lot longer than they think.”
That warning appears to be a reference to the possibility that Democrats, if they take back control of the Senate next month, could pack more liberal justices onto the Supreme Court and shift its ideological balance. It’s a prospect that presidential candidate Joe Biden has repeatedly refused to rule out.
Democratic Senator Chris Murphy said in a statement that the Republicans “just accomplished what they’ve been trying to do for years: weaponise the courts to accomplish a hugely unpopular agenda that they couldn’t get done in Congress”.
He warned that Judge Barrett will now be seated on the court in time to hear Trump and congressional Republicans’ lawsuit to eradicate the Affordable Care Act and end protections for 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions, “creating a humanitarian catastrophe in the middle of a global health pandemic”.
“And next on the chopping block, it is clear, is a woman’s right to choose, gun violence prevention measures, and campaign finance reform. I am both infuriated and devastated on behalf of our country,” Mr Murphy said.
Another Democratic Senator, Sheldon Whitehouse, said that Republicans might “rue the day” and with this vote, his Republican colleagues “forfeit their right to call procedural fouls.”
Similarly, Senator Angus King noted that the number of justices on the court is not inscribed in the US constitution – another reference to the possibility of Democrats adding to the bench.
Meagan Hatcher Mays, director of democracy policy at Indivisible, a non-profit social movement, said that the Supreme Court is now under the control of six “far-right ideologues who were chosen and confirmed not to administer justice but to administer wins to the Republican Party”.
“Amy Coney Barrett is a threat to the health and safety of millions of Americans. Mitch McConnell and the Republican Senate are a threat to the health and safety of our very democracy. And despite what McConnell may claim from the Senate floor, this isn't over,” said Ms Mays.
She warned if Mr McConnell thinks that we "won't be able to do much about this," he should think again as “we can and will defeat his disastrous agenda and restore balance to the courts”.
“It all starts on 3 November,” Ms May said.