WASHINGTON – Ahead of Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation vote this evening for a lifetime appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court, Senator Maggie Hassan delivered a speech on the Senate floor regarding her opposition to Judge Barrett’s confirmation.
To watch the Senator’s floor speech, click here.
“This is a lifetime appointment to the highest court in our land – which will impact the lives of every single person in this country,” Senator Hassan said. “The consequences of this nomination are far reaching. And right now, there is perhaps no more consequential issue than health care.”
Senator Hassan raised her concerns that Judge Barrett could be the deciding vote to overturn the entire Affordable Care Act and its protections for people with pre-existing conditions. The Senator spoke about the Granite Staters she has heard from who fear what will happen if the law is repealed and their health care coverage is taken away.
Senator Hassan continued, “Making matters worse, in pushing this nomination through, my colleagues could undermine health care in the midst of a devastating pandemic. And just as we are learning that the long-term effects of this virus will likely mean that treatment for some will be ongoing for a lifetime, the Senate Republicans are moving to overturn the Affordable Care Act just when it is needed most. It is unconscionable.”
The Senator went on to cite her concerns with Judge Barrett’s judicial philosophy and partisan agenda, including when it comes to restricting the constitutionally protected rights of women, undermining the rights of LGBTQ Americans, refusing to acknowledge that voter intimidation is illegal, and denying the science of climate change.
Senator Hassan also called out Senate Republicans for breaking the rules that they themselves invented in 2016 by pushing a Supreme Court nominee through in the midst of an election.
“My Republican colleagues have shown that they will stop at nothing to get this nominee through,” Senator Hassan said. “No matter how many rules they break. And no matter how many Americans’ rights are threatened.”
The Senator concluded: “I cannot support a lifetime nomination of an individual who puts the health care and basic civil rights of millions of Americans at risk. I will oppose Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court. And I urge my colleagues to do the same.”
To read the Senator’s full speech as delivered, see below:
I want to thank my colleague from New Mexico for his remarks just now. I rise today to join him and my other Democratic colleagues in opposing Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
Mr. President, I want to begin by acknowledging the nature of the moment that we are in right now.
We are mere days from an election day – during an election period in which tens of millions of Americans have already voted.
We are grappling with a global pandemic that has taken the lives of more than 220,000 Americans. And millions are out of work.
Yet rather than focusing on providing the comprehensive relief that lives and livelihoods are depending on, Republicans have instead made pushing this nomination through their top priority.
The American people deserve better.
Mr. President, one of the most solemn responsibilities of a United States Senator is providing advice and consent with regard to a Presidential Supreme Court nomination.
This is a lifetime appointment to the highest court in our land – which will impact the lives of every single person in this country.
The consequences of this nomination are far reaching. And right now, there is perhaps no more consequential issue than health care.
The Trump administration and Republicans in Congress have been relentless in their attempts to sabotage our health care system, repeal the Affordable Care Act, and eliminate the health care protections that millions of people depend on.
But for years, Republicans have failed legislatively to repeal this law. So now, instead, they've turned to the courts.
President Trump said he wants to “terminate” the Affordable Care Act. And has said that he would nominate judges who would do just that.
One week after this election, just nine days away, the Supreme Court will hear the lawsuit, supported by the Trump administration, to repeal the entire Affordable Care Act and its protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
It is no secret that this is why Senate Republicans have rushed Judge Barrett’s nomination through.
For some of my colleagues, this nomination is a means to an end: a way to finally repeal the Affordable Care Act, a law that has helped so many.
For the American people, however, this isn’t a game.
Mr. President, over the course of the last several weeks, people in my home state of New Hampshire and across the country have spoken out about what the repeal of this law would mean for them, just as they’ve spoken out each time Republicans have tried to take coverage away.
I recently heard from Michelle and Joe O’Leary of Atkinson, New Hampshire.
Michelle and Joe’s son Matty was diagnosed with a rare brain condition at the age of four.
Right now, Matty is doing well, but he requires a life-saving brain infusion treatment at the hospital for four to six hours, every two weeks.
His father said that the minute that they miss an infusion, Matty’s health would begin to decline rapidly.
Joe and Michelle said that on top of all of the challenges their family experiences on a day-to-day basis, they still have to wake up each morning fearing the implications if the Supreme Court overturns the health care law. Fearing what will happen if coverage is taken away and they can’t access the treatment that their beloved Matty needs.
Joe and Michelle shared the details of this deeply personal health care story in order to preserve health care for their son – and millions of others. They shouldn’t have to. No one in America should have to plead with their legislators to not take their health care away. No one should. But they do, in the wealthiest country on earth.
Joe and Michelle are not alone.
If Judge Barrett is confirmed and becomes the Court’s deciding vote to overturn the Affordable Care Act, an estimated 20 million Americans could lose their health care coverage.
Making matters worse, in pushing this nomination through, my colleagues could undermine health care in the midst of a devastating pandemic. And just as we are learning that the long-term effects of this virus will likely mean that treatment for some will be ongoing for a lifetime, the Senate Republicans are moving to overturn the Affordable Care Act just when it is needed most. It is, Mr. President, unconscionable.
Mr. President, potentially ripping away health care from millions of Americans is just one of the many things at stake.
Women’s reproductive freedom is at risk.
President Trump has said that he will only nominate judges who would overturn Roe v. Wade. And Judge Barrett has repeatedly criticized this landmark ruling that provides women with the freedom to make their own health care decisions and control their own destinies. Be full citizens of the United States of America.
Equality for LGBTQ Americans is at also risk.
Just this month, two justices on the Supreme Court indicated their desire to overturn the decision in Obergefell v. Hodges – which delivered marriage equality to so many. Judge Barrett has previously defended the dissenting opinion in that case.
And voting rights are at risk.
Judge Barrett refused to acknowledge the fact that communities of color face disproportionate obstacles in voting. Nor would she acknowledge what every lawyer – and really most high school students – know: that voter intimidation is illegal and antithetical to our basic principles.
Judge Barrett would not even give a straight answer when asked if presidents should commit to a peaceful transition of power, an essential element to our democracy – and one that we have held as an example to the rest of the world throughout our history.
And despite asserting that she is independent and not swayed by politics, Judge Barrett’s refusal to acknowledge that climate change is real – after acknowledging other scientific facts, such as the infectious nature of COVID-19 and that cigarettes cause cancer – reveals her alignment with and responsibility to a far right, climate change denying agenda.
Mr. President, our founding documents gave us the flexibility and the tools to grow in our understanding of what individual freedom means and who is entitled to it. These tools have given us the power to create change and move forward. To unleash the talent and energy of previously marginalized citizens. Our country has prospered, thrived, and led as a result.
But, Judge Barrett’s views and her judicial philosophy are not rooted in that belief.
She instead would constrain individual liberty and empower corporations. And put the progress that so many have fought for at risk.
Mr. President, Republicans have moved this nomination forward in contradiction of the rules that they themselves invented in 2016.
Our society and our democracy relies on the idea that all sides of political debates will play by the same rules. That means when any faction loses, it does so knowing that it will have a fair chance in the next round. When that understanding is disrupted, it destabilizes our democracy. And it sews confusion and chaos.
My Senate Republican colleagues’ actions make it clear that they believe that the rules do not apply to them – and that they do not care about destabilizing our democracy in this way.
We should not vote on a Supreme Court nomination while an election is actually underway, for the first time in American history, voting on a Supreme Court nominee just days before Election Day.
But my Republican colleagues have shown that they will stop at nothing to get this nominee through, no matter how many rules they break. No matter how many Americans’ rights are threatened.
And they are doing so all while people across the country are pleading with us to come together to provide more support amid a public health and economic crisis.
My Senate Republican colleagues’ priorities are clear. And they are an outrage.
Mr. President, I cannot support a lifetime nomination of an individual who puts the health care and basic civil rights of millions of Americans at risk.
I will oppose Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court. And I urge my colleagues to do the same.
Thank you, Mr. President, I yield the floor.