This piece was originally published in the October 12, 2020 edition of CAP Action’s daily newsletter, the Progress Report. Subscribe to the Progress Report here.
“Health care is personal.”
— Sen. Mazie Hirono
Trump’s lawsuit to repeal the Affordable Care Act will come before the Supreme Court just one week after Election Day.
If the ACA is repealed, 20 MILLION Americans will lose their health coverage. 135 MILLION people with preexisting conditions will lose protections.
This is what’s at stake with Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
Watch Senators Chris Murphy and Catherine Cortez Masto explain:
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IN THE NEWS
- The first day of Senate hearings on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee just wrapped up. Senate Judiciary Chair Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who himself refused to be tested for COVID-19 ahead of the hearings, insisted on holding them in person, despite the fact that two of his Republican colleagues on the committee recently tested positive after attending Amy Coney Barrett’s superspreader announcement event at the White House. Meanwhile, Senate Republicans refuse to take up a coronavirus relief bill, shirking their duties to the American people in order to fast-track this nomination.
- While some senators chose to video call into the hearings from remote locations, Mike Lee of Utah — one of the COVID-positive Republicans — did not. Lee was present in the committee hearing room, and did not wear a mask while giving his opening statement. Not only are Republicans putting Americans at risk through their policies — they are now personally risking the safety of their colleagues, their staffers, and the non-political employees who keep the Capitol complex running.
REALITY CHECK: Let’s take a step back and remember what’s at stake here. At the front of many Americans’ minds is a potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act, which could realistically happen shortly after the election if Barrett is confirmed. Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) said it best: “Repealing the Affordable Care Act is at the top of [Republicans’] hit list.”
- Every Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee has voted at least twice — some as many as 12 times — to strip away protections for the 135 million Americans with preexisting conditions. By voting to confirm Amy Coney Barrett, they’re adding to that tally. Some, like Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), are barely trying to hide their disinterest in protecting their constituents. Days ago, Cornyn tweeted that Democrats were “overstating the problem” that would result from stripping away these protections. Ask anyone who had a preexisting condition prior to the ACA and they’ll tell you that this is no small issue. It’s the difference between being able to access insurance or not — not to mention the added challenge of being able to afford it.
- Also at stake is the threat to Roe v. Wade and its implications for reproductive justice. Much like their commitment to repealing the ACA, Trump and his allies have pledged to nominate Supreme Court justices who would repeal the landmark 1973 case which affirmed the Constitutional right to safe and legal abortion. Barrett certainly fits that description — as we recently discovered, she once signed her name to a full-page ad that described Roe as “barbaric” and called for overturning the decision.
- Despite the far-reaching consequences this nomination will have on their constituents, Republican senators spent much of their time bemoaning the “politicization” of the Supreme Court. Here’s the truth: If anyone has politicized the courts, it’s their own party. Republicans have spent years warping the federal judiciary into an institution that intentionally serves their political desires and works to disadvantage their opponents through upholding undemocratic policies like gerrymandering and voter suppression. And Trump is one of the worst culprits.
- With the help of Mitch McConnell and the very senators who today accused their Democratic colleagues of “politicizing” this nomination, Trump has managed to ram more than 200 of his hand-picked right-wing judicial nominees through the Senate. In fact, even as the GOP stalls on passing additional coronavirus relief, McConnell has quietly continued pushing judicial confirmations through the Senate, reshaping the federal judiciary with under-qualified lawyers chosen specifically because Republicans know they’ll rule in their favor on policy disputes.
Just look at the staggering gap in the number of appellate judges confirmed under presidents of both parties:
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
- Today is Indigenous Peoples Day, a holiday that celebrates the history and vibrancy of contemporary Native cultures. According to ColorLines, Indigenous Peoples Day gained traction in the late ’90s as a result of the activism of Indigenous leaders and educators. These activists worked — and are still working — to re-educate Americans about the history of Christopher Columbus, who is often credited with “discovering” the Americas and has been widely celebrated despite the glaring atrocities he committed. Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM), one of the first Native American women to serve in Congress, shared her own journey of activism and thoughts on Columbus’ legacy.
- John Roberts, Brett Kavanaugh, and now Amy Coney Barrett will be engaging in a reunion of sorts if she joins them on the Supreme Court. Twenty years ago, all three worked on George W. Bush’s 2000 recount legal team. You read that right: As voters are already casting ballots heading into an election that could very possibly be decided in the courts, a third of the highest court in the land could be made up of lawyers who defended Bush in court in a case which ultimately resulted in the loser of the popular vote becoming president.
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