In her opening statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee Monday, Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett said elected officials, not judges, should determine public policy. In the coming days of questioning, Democrats should focus, laser-like, on that principle as it applies to the GOP’s ongoing attempt to kill the Affordable Care Act — something the party has been unable to do legislatively, so is trying to get the high court to do. Aren’t such end-runs around Congress exactly what Barrett says judges shouldn’t do? The question demands an answer.
The underlying outrage of the hearings that started Monday aren’t about the nominee herself, but the corrupt process under which she is being confirmed. Senate Republicans in 2016 blockaded then-President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, holding the seat open for 11 months, until President Donald Trump could take office and fill it. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell piously declared back then that “the people” should get to choose the next justice via their presidential vote. Having refused to seat a qualified judge for almost a year, Senate Republicans now rush to seat Barrett in mere weeks, denying voters the very say that McConnell once deemed so important.
The stakes are huge, and immediate. One week after the election, the Supreme Court will hear a GOP-backed case seeking to kill the ACA in its entirety. It stems from a national suit by Republican state attorneys general arguing that because a Republican Congress zeroed out the tax penalty for failing to carry health insurance, the entire law must fall.
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