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On Monday evening, Amy Coney Barrett became the 115th person to be confirmed to the Supreme Court in one of the closest votes in American history, 52-48, tied with Clarence Thomas — who swore her in shortly thereafter — and only bested in mediocrity by Brett Kavanaugh (50-48), whose own confirmation process was so toxic and partisan two years ago that, this time around, Republicans practically wrapped-up Barrett in rhetorical couch cushions and duct tape, accusing Democrats — before scarcely a word had been said — of being anti-Catholic and anti-working-mother.
Never mind, of course, that Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi and Sonia Sotomayor are Catholics, or that there are nearly twice as many Catholic Democrats in Congress as there are Catholic Republicans, or that Trump and Fox News and much of the Republican establishment have spent years openly criticizing Pope Francis for offering controversial opinions like “climate change seems real” and “immigrants are people, too” and “be nice to LGBTQ people.”
Never mind that the United States is still one of three countries in the world — and the only industrialized country — without paid maternity or paternity leave, or that working mothers, particularly Black and Brown mothers, face overwhelming pay disparities and other forms of discrimination in the workplace, and Republicans, as a matter of policy, are hellbent on refusing to acknowledge any of these problems while they lecture and condescend about “motherhood.”
Never mind that more than 226,000 Americans have been killed by COVID-19, and that the United States leads the word, by a wide margin, in both reported cases and deaths, and that nearly half of small businesses in this country have been shut down — temporarily or permanently — due to the crisis, and that Trump has been discovered to have known early on the danger facing us all, yet downplayed it. And that despite all of this and much more, the Republican Party and Trump and McConnell refused to work with Democratic congressional leadership to pass a COVID relief bill this month, but somehow found the space to push through Barrett’s confirmation in record time, including a nomination ceremony at the White House that quite literally became a super-spreader event that singlehandedly doubled D.C.’s reported COVID cases overnight, all in the name of seeking to confirm a so-called “pro-life” justice.
Never mind that when Barrett was directly questioned by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) about whether Brown v. Board (desegregating public schools) and Loving v. Virginia (legalizing interracial marriage) were decided correctly, she didn’t hesitate to respond in the affirmative that, yes, they were correctly decided, but when Blumenthal followed up about Lawrence v. Texas (decriminalizing homosexuality), Griswold v. Connecticut (legalizing contraceptives), and Obergefell v. Hodges (legalizing same-sex marriage), Barrett refused to offer affirmation, instead asserting that it wasn’t her place to give “yes or no” answers on existing precedents. Her detached, un-affirming legalese around Obergefell, in particular, was so startling that no less than both Jim Obergefell and Richard Hodges jointly stated that Barrett’s confirmation posed a risk to LGBTQ equality.
Never mind that Barrett failed to disclose talks she gave on Roe v. Wade to students at Notre Dame — the content of which we still don’t have because the GOP-led Senate Judiciary didn’t feel it prudent to call for that information to be released — and has quite literally signed an advertisement in the New York Times in 2006 endorsing the idea that Roe can and should be overturned, and signed an open letter in 2012 opposing the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that employers permit contraceptives to be included in their health care plans, and signed an open letter in 2015 stating that life begins at conception, and has spoken with great feeling about her clerkship under the late Justice Anthony Scalia, and has been loudly supported by anti-abortion groups through her entire career. And yet, somehow, someway, we are to believe that Barrett would never overturn Roe, as Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) insisted while she thrust in the dagger with her vote to confirm Barrett.
Never mind that Barrett has never tried a case, never tried an appeal, never argued before the Supreme Court, and has only spent two years on a federal bench.
Never mind that Barrett is now the 220th judicial confirmation for Trump in less than four years in office — a record by a mile — because, despite Barack Obama being elected by a majority of Americans twice consecutively, Mitch McConnell led Senate Republicans in blocking and refusing to consider over 100 judicial nominations under Obama, including 11 months of keeping the Supreme Court at eight seats and stating publicly before the 2016 election that if Clinton won, they would keep blocking nominations so long as they had the Senate. But we are supposed to ignore this blatant obstruction of the federal judiciary and the pervasive corruption and silencing of the American people that drove it.
Never mind that in a majority of the United States, LGBTQ people still face discrimination in housing, credit, public accommodations, jury service, and so many other areas of the public square because we lack comprehensive federal non-discrimination protections, and the likes of Amy Coney Barrett basically wants her personal beliefs to control the private lives of other people, wants the government to tell people who to love and what to do with their bodies, wants the state to enshrine her religious views in the bedrooms of complete strangers, and we are supposed to ignore this.
Never mind that I, a proud transgender woman, go to church and have been praying to the same God all my adult life and that not once — not a single time — have I ever needed anyone around me to validate my faith, because that’s what it means to have faith. And yet, I am told that my mere existence, heart and soul given to Christ, should be a sufficient reason for anyone in the public square to refuse to recognize my humanity on the basis of their religious beliefs and expect protection from the likes of Amy Coney Barrett should their grievance reach her bench.
Never mind all of this because to these people — Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell and Amy Coney Barrett — democracy is only valuable and worth defending when it’s made in their own image.
Are you angry? You should be. Now go vote.
Charlotte Clymer is an American activist and writer. Follow her on Twitter at @cmclymer.
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