October 08, 2020

Feinstein: Conservative Court Could Undermine Voting Rights

Washington—Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) released the following statement on the effect a more conservative Supreme Court could have on voting rights:

“Over the past decade, several Republican-controlled states have passed new laws designed to make it harder to vote. An even more conservative Supreme Court could cement those laws in place, further disenfranchising millions of voters.

“In Shelby County v. Holder, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 in 2013 to overturn a key section of the Voting Rights Act, opening the floodgates for states to enact more laws to disenfranchise voters. Justice Ginsburg, a pioneer on voting rights, wrote the dissenting opinion in that case.

“Since that decision, Republican-controlled legislatures have passed stricter voter ID laws, put in place insurmountable financial hurdles to block felons from voting and reduced options for early-voting and mail-in voting options.

“If Judge Barrett is confirmed, a 6-3 conservative majority could make it even harder for Americans to exercise their constitutional right to vote. Just this week, the Supreme Court allowed vote-by-mail restrictions to remain in place even as millions of voters are using that option to safely cast ballots during the pandemic.

“Voting has already begun in many states and Americans can’t afford a justice who won’t protect their voting rights. We should hold this seat open until after the American people have spoken and the next president is sworn in.”

Background:

  • The majority of Americans (57%-38%) want this Supreme Court vacancy filled by the next president, according to a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll.

  • In 2019, Judge Barrett dissented from a 7th Circuit opinion upholding the government’s right to prohibit felons from owning a gun.

    • In that opinion, Judge Barrett wrote “Founding-era legislatures did not strip felons of the right to bear arms simply because of their status as felons. Nor have the parties introduced any evidence that founding-era legislatures imposed virtue-based restrictions on the right; such restrictions applied to civic rights like voting and jury service, not to individual rights like the right to possess a gun.”

    • In other words, Judge Barrett believes that it should be easier to strip Americans of their right to vote than their right to own a gun.

  • In her Rose Garden speech accepting her nomination to the Supreme Court, Judge Barrett said of Justice Antonin Scalia that “his judicial philosophy is mine.”

    • Justice Scalia was infamously hostile to voting rights. He once characterized the Voting Rights Act as a “perpetuation of racial entitlement.”
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