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Amy Coney Barrett confirmed for Supreme Court, putting decades of progress on LGBT+ rights at risk

Reiss Smith October 27, 2020
amy coney Barrett

Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett reacts as she testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the second day of her Supreme Court confirmation hearing. (Sarah Silbiger-Pool/Getty)

Amy Coney Barrett has been confirmed for the Supreme Court.

The Senate voted to confirm Barrett’s nomination 52 to 48 on Monday (26 October).

Barrett is expected to be sworn in imminently by Donald Trump at a special ceremony outside the White House, CNN reported earlier.

Amy Coney Barrett will ‘turn back the clock on LGBT+ rights’.

At 48, Barrett is the youngest Supreme Court justice and is likely shape the court for decades to come. Her confirmation means conservatives have a strong 6-3 majority for the foreseeable future, which liberals have warned could have dire consequences for the future of healthcare, LGBT+ rights, abortion rights, and various other human rights issues.

GLAAD said ahead of the vote her confirmation “is alarming for LGBTQ people and for all Americans whose fundamental rights should never be up for debate”.

On Sunday night (25 October), Elizabeth Warren warned that a vote to confirm Barrett was a vote “to turn back the clock on reproductive freedom, to endanger dreamers and immigrants, to let climate change rampage unchecked, to imperil efforts to address systemic racism, to place workers’ rights, voting rights, LGBTQ rights, gun violence prevention, all artist”.

The Supreme Court has been advancing LGBT+ rights since 1996, when it ruled that laws couldn’t single out queer people to take away their rights under the 14th Amendment.

The same year it ruled in favour of the Boy Scouts of America, giving them the right to expel gay members. Almost a decade later, in 2003, it struck down a Texan sodomy law, and in the process ruled 13 others unconstitutional, making same-sex activity legal across the US for the first time. In 2015 it made same-sex marriage the law of the land, and just this year, extended workplace discrimination protections to LGBT+ people.

Warren was one of many to take to the floor as Democrats spoke through the night, in protest at the GOP strong-arming Barrett’s nomination through Congress.

The former presidential hopeful called the decision to push through Barrett’s nomination “an illegitimate process carried out against the wishes of much of the nation”, underlining the fury felt by Democrats within Congress and across the country.

Republicans pushed through Supreme Court nomination days before election despite their own precedent.

Barrett’s confirmation is the quickest in living memory. No Supreme Court justice has even been confirmed this close to an election, and with eight days to go until election day on November 3, more than 58 million have already cast their ballots.

Sunday’s filibuster was largely symbolic, as with a 53-47 majority in the Senate, it was inevitable Republicans would get their own way.

Immediately after the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg on September 18, Republican Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell made it clear he would press ahead with a plot to replace her on the bench.

This was in direct contradiction to Ginsburg’s own wishes – that she be replaced following the election – and in stark contrast to 2016.

In March of that year, eight months before the election, Barack Obama sought to nominate Merrick Garland to fill the seat left but he late conservative justice Antonin Scalia in March. This would have tipped the balance in favour of liberals, but McConnell refused to even give Obama’s nominee a vote on the Senate floor.

McConnell insisted that the circumstances were what precipitated the change, noting that Obama was a Democrat with a Republican congress, whereas now both the legislative and executive are under GOP control.

Soon after, Barrett’s nomination was rushed to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Throughout four days of hearings Democrats decried what they saw as a threat to justice and even boycotted a session to advance her nomination to a full vote.

 

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