“Look, Judge [Amy Coney] Barrett possesses qualifications that I think are appropriate and relevant for a nominee for the most significant court in our country,” Said Senator Chris Coons Wednesday. “My concern isn’t her qualifications. It’s her judicial philosophy and reviews, and the ways in which those will have real world consequences for millions of Americans.”
Right now, with everything going on in the world, Coons does not feel like it is the appropriate time to be choosing a candidate for the nation’s highest court. Confirmations should come following only careful consideration, and consideration takes a not insignificant amount of time. There is a body of work for congressional leaders to sort through to decide whether or not they can support a candidate for the office and that time has not been provided, Coons said.
“Frankly, we’re trying to jam a month’s worth of work into a week, and it strikes me that neither I, nor any of the other committee members, will be fully prepared as we should be to engage in the kind of searching and thorough questioning that’s appropriate for a lifetime commitment to a court that makes decisions month-in-and-month-out, every year, that have an impact on how people live their lives in our country.”
Coons vetted Barrett during a phone conversation Wednesday. He fears she will take place on a court that will set their sights on the Affordable Care Act just a week after the election while the country remains in the middle of a pandemic–removing healthcare protections for millions–but also has concerns about “the longer term and broader reaching consequences” of a potential appointment, where she could potentially be “overturning dozens of settled cases in areas from voting rights and criminal defense rights, to Native American sovereignty issues and and labor rights.”
Unfortunately, according to Coons, the path forward is somewhat bleak for those against Barrett’s nomination as options are limited.
“Persuading two more Republicans that they should follow their own precedent from four years ago, and persuading several of the committee members who are up for reelection and literally voting–likely–to confirm a nominee who will take away healthcare protections from their own constituent, those motivations are really the only pathway we have,” Coons said. “There’s no procedural move that I’m aware of, that allows the minority to slow this process down at all.”
There are also far more important things the government should be focused on outside of Barrett’s nomination. Things like more federal assistance for those suffering in the middle of a public health crisis which has impacted jobs, businesses, and educational opportunities.
“I do think that President [Donald] Trump announcing late yesterday that he’s cutting off negotiations for another round of relief is a disappointing development; that he then reversed himself within a few hours is not that surprising but that is what the Senate should be focusing on this week,” Coons said. “It’s what I hear every day from Delawareans–small business owners, folks who are unemployed, people working in nonprofits–is that they are desperately waiting for another round of federal support. I hear the same from the leaders of our state and local governments here, as well as from folks in the healthcare industry and people actively on the frontlines of care.”
There’s been no conversation between Trump and Barrett about where she stands on overturning the Affordable Care Act, Coons reported Barrett telling him. He did ask her whether she would recuse herself from any election-related case that might come before the Supreme Court in the wake of the next general election, and Coons said she would make no such commitment.
“We haven’t had the time to thoroughly prepare,” Coons said. “None of us will have met with her in person during this confirmation process, and several of us cannot participate in person, either because they’re infected and shouldn’t be there, or because they have pre-existing conditions of such severity that participating in person is not safe.”