State politicos speak out on Trump’s pick for SCOTUS

Published 3:04 pm Monday, September 28, 2020

Elected leaders from Alabama began speaking out over the weekend following the announcement of Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Amy Coney Barrett as U.S. President Donald Trump’s pick to replace U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died recently at the age of 87.

Opinions were divided along partisan lines, with Republicans lining up to support Trump’s decision and Democrats sounding off in opposition to the move.

“I commend President Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to serve on the United States Supreme Court,” said Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey in a statement released Saturday afternoon. “Judge Barrett will be focused on interpreting the law, being an arbiter and not a lawmaker, as the Supreme Court demands of its justices. Based on her proven career and background, I am confident that Judge Barrett will be articulate and a fair supporter of issues important to Alabamians such as protecting the unborn and our second amendment rights, while applying the law impartially.”

Ivey asserted that Barrett will “embody the precedent” set forth by the late Ginsburg, a reliably liberal voice on the court, but Democrats have alleged just the opposite, taking exception with Coney’s nomination both because it undermines Ginsburg’s dying wish that the next president would appoint her replacement and puts in her place a conservative justice expected to diverge grandly from Ginsburg’s vision of the law.

On Friday, U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, D-AL, voiced his opposition to the decision to announce a replacement for Ginsburg so soon after her death and only weeks before the November election.

“It is a poor reflection of the state of our national politics that, just hours after Justice Ginsburg’s passing, we were thrust into a divisive partisan fight over her successor, denying the nation the time to mourn this extraordinary American’s death,” Jones said. “Just weeks from a national election, we are confronting a blatant power grab by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the President that will undermine the court and subvert the will of the American people.”

Jones, like many national-level Democrats, is bemoaning the fact that Republicans are backtracking on the claims they made in 2016 to avoid confirming U.S. President Barack Obama’s pick for the court.

“Just four years ago, Leader McConnell held open a Supreme Court seat for ten months before a presidential election because he said time and again that, in an election year, we must let the American people decide,” Jones said. “If confirming a Supreme Court justice ten months prior to a presidential election would have denied the American people a voice, then isn’t he now denying the American people a voice by rushing to confirm a justice just weeks before a presidential election? I believe the answer to this question is a resounding yes. This is especially true given the urgent legislative work we have yet to do.”

U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby R-AL, however, celebrated Trump’s pick in a press statement released Saturday.

“I am extremely pleased with President Trump’s selection in nominating Judge Barrett to the Supreme Court,” Shelby said in the statement. “From her clerkship for the late Justice Scalia to her tenure on the [Seventh] Circuit, Judge Barrett has had a distinguished career and has proven her commitment to the rule of law. Our next Supreme Court Justice must be a steadfast supporter of upholding our nation’s Constitution. I have no doubt in Judge Barrett’s qualifications and I look forward to supporting her nomination.”

Opinions were likewise divided in the U.S. House of Representatives, where U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, D-AL, blasted the president’s actions.

“The Supreme Court nomination by President Trump [Saturday], with the 2020 presidential election only 38 days away, denies the American people a voice in this very important decision,” Sewell said in a statement issued Saturday. “The nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett is clearly tainted by the hypocrisy of Senate Republicans to go back on their own promise not to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court so close to a presidential election.”

Sewell called the move “especially disturbing” considering that scores of voters across the nation have already cast ballots in the 2020 presidential contest.

“Fairness and comity demand that the Senate not confirm any vacancy on the Supreme Court until the American people have chosen the next president,” Sewell said. “To do otherwise, I believe would undermine the very legitimacy of the Supreme Court.”

Conversely, U.S. Rep. Gary Palmer, R-AL, who represents Alabama’s 6th Congressional District, lauded Trump’s selection.

“President Trump has made an excellent choice in nominating Judge Barrett to the Supreme Court and I extend my heartfelt congratulations to her and her family,” Palmer said in a weekend statement. “Judge Barrett has a stellar record of faithfully interpreting the law, training young lawyers, producing brilliant scholarship and upholding the Constitution…There is no question that she is highly qualified and will make a fantastic Justice.”

For his part, Palmer urged the Senate to “confirm her quickly” during a Senate confirmation hearing process, set to begin in mid-October, which is already anticipated to be highly charged.

“The confirmation process is already proving to be another brutal fight, but I am certain that this is the job for a strong, conservative woman,” Ivey said in her Saturday press release. “The people of Alabama overwhelmingly supported President Trump in 2016 and I commend him for performing his constitutional duty of nominating to the Supreme Court and getting the job done that we elected him to do. The late Justice Ginsburg herself noted that even in an election year, ‘a president doesn’t stop being president.’ I eagerly anticipate Judge Barrett’s confirmation and I look forward to continuing to forge a strong relationship between President Trump and the state of Alabama during his next term.”