October 26, 2020
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) voted against Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to serve as an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court. In his full statement below, Senator King cites the rushed nature of the proceedings – which he argued should take place after the upcoming election – and the core flaws of Judge Barrett’s judicial philosophy, which he discussed in a Senate floor speech and an op-ed for The Atlantic.
“Today’s outcome was pre-determined from the moment Mitch McConnell skipped past his shameful Merrick Garland precedent and ignored Justice Ginsburg’s dying wish – but that doesn’t make it any easier to stomach,” said Senator King. “With Americans already casting ballots across the nation, the Senate majority decided to rush a lifetime appointment before voters could be heard. Worse still, this happens as the nation needed actual leadership in the form of a coronavirus relief bill to restore stability to our economy and faith in our government. We’re meant to be a body that represents the will of the people; instead, we worked overtime so we could ignore their voices. What a disgrace to our institution.
“This process was a mockery of our system of government – but even these awful proceedings may pale in comparison to now-Justice Barrett’s potential impact from the bench of our nation’s highest court. The more I’ve studied her record and dug into her legal ideology, the more concerned I’ve grown about her deeply-held, radical commitment to originalism.
“In a world that is ever-changing, and with new threats that our forefathers never could have imagined, it is vital that we follow the guidance of the Constitution’s Framers while taking generational changes into account. Jefferson said it best: ‘With the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.’
“Based on her judicial record and her testimony, Justice Barrett seems content to dismiss Jefferson’s argument – which is a significant danger to the country. She would have us locked into the precise wording of the 18th century, leaving no room for moral or cultural growth. Under the guise of originalism, Justice Barrett will threaten environmental protections, civil rights, reproductive rights, and much more.
“Critically, and perhaps most urgently – Justice Barrett is a significant threat to the future of the Affordable Care Act. Now my colleagues’ power grab has succeeded in placing her on the court in time for Justice Barrett to become a potentially decisive vote on whether or not to strike down this law, and rip health care away from millions of Americans across the nation – in the middle of a pandemic that this White House now admits they will not get under control. Today was a tough blow, but the fight’s not over yet – and I won’t ever stop standing up for the health of our people at every possible opportunity. Nor will I stand down in working to restore public confidence in this institution, once we turn the page on this dark chapter for the U.S. Senate.”