Senate Republicans were accused Monday of leading a "partisan charade" as the GOP-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee began confirmation hearings for Amy Coney Barrett—a Supreme Court nominee described as a threat to reproductive rights and healthcare access.
"Two things are clear," said NARAL Pro-Choice America president Ilyse Hogue said in a statement. "Barrett poses a clear and present danger to our fundamental rights and this hearing is part of an illegitimate and craven power grab that could affect our courts for a long time."
If confirmed for the lifetime seat, Barrett, who is 48, would lean the court further to the right, giving it a 6-3 conservative majority.
Republicans have pushed through the nomination at lightning speed even as the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage, suffering Americans see no aid from another comprehensive Covid-19 relief package, and voters have begun to cast ballots ahead of Election Day.
The rushed confirmation process, as well as the record of President Donald Trump's rightwing nominee, has elicited rebuke from Democrats, thousands of lawyers, and progressive groups like NARAL Pro-Choice America.
In her statement Monday, Hogue renewed the demand that senators not hold any hearing for a Supreme Court justice nominee until after the next administration begins.
"Plowing ahead with the confirmation of a Supreme Court justice this close to Election Day is an attack on our democracy that we won't forget," said Hogue, calling it "disgraceful for Senate Republicans to continue this partisan charade to maintain control no matter the results of November's election, all while refusing to help people struggling in the midst of the still-raging pandemic."
"No confirmation should be considered until after Inauguration Day, period," she said.
The reproductive rights group has previously warned that Barrett's "positions show she is a clear and present threat to reproductive freedom and the promise of Roe"—a warning in line with that from Center for Reproductive Rights president and CEO Nancy Northup, who's called Barrett's "record in opposition to reproductive rights... clear and alarming."
Beyond threats to abortion access, Barrett's critics say her record shows other key issues hang in the balance as well, such as the fate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
That issue was noted by Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) in his opening remarks at the confirmation hearing. "Instead of doing anything to help people who are struggling right now, we are here."
"I am really glad that my colleagues who contracted Covid-19 at the Rose Garden super-spreader event had access to the care you and your families needed," said Booker, contrasting such access with that available to "the people who will come through here today to wipe down the desks and empty the garbage, that will vacuum the floor... like people all over our country who are working today" and "cannot show up to work sick."
"Donald Trump and most of my Senate Republican colleagues know the truth—they will not be able to get away with this after the American people have spoken in this election," said Booker. He asserted of the rushed confirmation process for Barrett: "Nothing about this is normal."
It’s very simple. @SenateGOP know the American people don’t want this, but they don’t care. Because they only have… https://t.co/oj7PhmNvHf— Sen. Cory Booker (@Sen. Cory Booker)1602521696.0
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) also drew attention to what she framed as a broad scope of rights that would be under further attack should Barrett be confirmed.
"We know exactly what Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, is being picked to do: complete a decades-long assault on our judiciary by billionaires, giant corporations, and rightwing extremists to tilt the courts in their favor and against everyone else," Warren wrote at an op-ed published Monday at Rolling Stone.
"The list of what is at stake if Republicans get their way," warned Warren, "is truly staggering."
Barrett's confirmation hearings are set to last through Thursday.