September 24, 2020

Feinstein Speaks on Rush to Replace Ginsburg, Risk to ACA from Trump Nominee

Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today spoke before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the threat posed to the Affordable Care Act and the health care of millions by the Republican rush to confirm a Trump nominee to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Supreme Court seat.

            “I continue to be struck by Justice Ginsburg’s legacy. In the days since her death, I have thought about her intellect, her perseverance, her humility, and her humanity.

            Given her record, it’s unsurprising that Justice Ginsburg was confirmed by a vote of 96 to 3. How often does that happen?

            Few justices have had a more profound impact on the law than Justice Ginsburg. Even fewer have been such steadfast defenders of equality, of the right to vote, of a woman’s right to choose and of access to health care.

            Unfortunately, many of those same rights and protections that Justice Ginsburg championed — as an attorney and on the bench — are now at grave and serious risk.

            More than 10 years after the Affordable Care Act’s passage — and more than eight years after the Supreme Court upheld the ACA — the law continues to be under attack.

            On November 10, just one week after the election, the Court will hear a renewed challenge to the Affordable Care Act. And the next justice — whoever that might be — could provide the deciding vote to gut the law and cut off health care for millions of Americans.

            This isn’t just idle speculation. As a matter of fact, President Trump has promised to appoint a justice who would strike down the ACA, putting health care access and protections for the nearly 130 million non-elderly Americans with preexisting conditions in peril.

            In 2016, then-candidate Trump criticized Chief Justice Roberts for voting to uphold the ACA and said this: “my judicial appointments will do the right thing unlike Bush’s appointee John Roberts on ObamaCare.”

            So we should be rightly concerned that he’s going to keep his word.

            And we should be concerned that in the midst of a pandemic that has killed more than 200,000 Americans, the president and Republicans will undoubtedly be rushing a nomination so that they can strip millions of Americans of their health insurance in just a matter of months.

            The president has also cited a potential dispute over the outcome of the election as a need to quickly replace Justice Ginsburg.

            Just yesterday, the president said that the election would likely end up before the Supreme Court, and that the court needs nine justices to decide any cases stemming from the election.

            He said: “I think it’s better if you go before the election because I think this — this scam that the Democrats are pulling...will be before the United States Supreme Court. And I think having a 4-4 situation is not a good situation.”

            The president has for months claimed without any evidence that mail-in voting is subject to fraud. And just yesterday he refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power should he lose the election in November.

            Every president to have held office before President Trump has peacefully transferred power to his successor. That includes John Adams, who yielded his office to Thomas Jefferson in 1801 after the first contested election the year before.

            So, what’s this all about? We must take seriously the president’s refusal to commit to leave office should he lose in November.

            But we must also understand that it is wholly improper to rush a Supreme Court nomination to affect the election results. We can and should fight against that effort.

            We lost Justice Ginsburg last Friday, just 46 days before the election.

            When there was a vacancy ten months before the last election, the Senate refused to consider the nomination. In Leader McConnell’s own words: “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President.”

            So let me be clear — neither this committee nor the Senate should consider a nomination at this time. I recognize I don’t have the power to carry that through, but I feel it very deeply.

            The next president — whether Joe Biden or Donald Trump — should make the decision who to nominate.

            If things move forward, and a nominee is confirmed before a new president is inaugurated, it is deeply concerning.”

###