‘A Shande’: Liberal Jewish Groups Slam Barrett’s Supreme Court Confirmation
Originally published by Haaretz
October 27, 2020
By Allison Kaplan Sommer
A long list of American Jewish organizations harshly criticized Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court eight days before the election.
Barrett, 48, was sworn in as the court’s 115th justice on Monday evening by Justice Clarence Thomas, on the South Lawn of the White House. It followed a bitter fight by Senate Democrats that resulted in a 52-48 partisan vote for her confirmation – with Democrats unified in opposition to the move.
Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, called Barrett’s ascent to the Supreme Court “a blow to the health of our democracy and a threat to the rights we have fought for over generations, including universal health care, reproductive rights, LGBTQ equality, and beyond. By rushing through this confirmation in the closing days of the election when millions of Americans have already voted, senators and the White House have shamefully disregarded the voices and views of their own constituents.”
Barrett’s nomination and confirmation were “rushed through,” charged National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) CEO Sheila Katz, in a statement in which she vowed to fight on.
“NCJW’s 180,000 advocates dissent to the confirmation of Judge Barrett,” Katz said. “We dissent to the process through which Judge Barrett was confirmed. We dissent to a Senate that refuses to prioritize the American people.”
“With more than 220,000 Americans dead from coronavirus and more than 20 million people who have lost their jobs, it is baffling that the Senate could focus on anything other than passing comprehensive relief legislation,” she added. “People are dying and the Senate has now confirmed a Supreme Court justice who has openly shared her desire to reverse the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and make health care less accessible to all Americans – in the middle of a global health crisis.
Halie Soifer, executive director for the Jewish Democratic Council of America, said that the vote for Barrett’s confirmation represented “a partisan power grab by President Trump and Senate Republicans, which violates the will of the American people, Justice [Ruth Bader] Ginsburg’s dying wish, and the standard Republicans set themselves for Supreme Court nominations in a presidential election year,” she said. “This confirmation will impact generations of Americans, and it’s a ‘shande’ – a shame to our democracy and judiciary.”
Barrett, she said, has demonstrated “a total disregard for legal precedent on critical issues such as the Affordable Care Act, equality in marriage, and reproductive freedom, and her views on the law are far outside the mainstream of public opinion.”
The progressive NGO Bend the Arc: Jewish Action said in its statement that Barrett’s confirmation was “a fundamental act of injustice” and “the culmination of a years-long effort by President Trump and Republican senators to stack our courts with ideologues who are only interested in protecting the rights of people who look and think like them.”
Rabbi Jack Moline, president of Interfaith Alliance, called Barrett’s “rushed, politicized confirmation process” an “affront to our democratic processes. By confirming a justice only eight days before a national election, Senate Republicans are rejecting their own standards, further politicizing the Supreme Court, and silencing millions of Americans from having a voice in the nomination process.”
At least one Jewish group was pleased by the move. The Republican Jewish Coalition tweeted “Congratulations” to Barrett and issued a statement by National Chairman and former senator Norm Coleman calling her “highly qualified, fair-minded and dedicated.”
“President Donald Trump made a wise choice in nominating her, and we are pleased that the Senate moved swiftly to confirm her to the court,” Coleman said. “Having a full complement of nine justices on the Supreme Court is very important to the smooth and effective working of our constitutional system. The president and Senate appropriately carried out their duties in putting forward and confirming this nominee.”