With little power to stop the Senate from confirming Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, Democrats will instead try and use her nomination to springboard into the majority next year by galvanizing their base ahead of the Nov. 3 election.
No sooner had President Trump announced Barrett in the White House Rose Garden, Sen. Chuck Schumer, the minority leader and New York Democrat, sent an email blast warning Barrett is a threat to their healthcare that only his party can stop.
“A vote for Judge Amy Coney Barrett is a vote to eliminate health care for millions in the middle of a pandemic,” Schumer said on Twitter, linking to the Senate Democrats’ website. “Democrats are fighting for Americans’ health care.”
Less than two hours after Barrett left the Rose Garden, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden made a fundraising pitch under the Barrett subject line.
“No matter what Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans do, we must defeat Donald Trump in November. Can you help us send a clear message by rushing $25 to my campaign right now?” Biden asked.
Democrats need to pick up only four seats to retake the Senate majority, and polls indicate Democratic candidates are in position to retake up to seven seats, with voter turnout a critical factor. A Biden win, coupled with the House Democratic majority that is likely to remain intact, would give Democrats sweeping control over two branches of government and a counterbalance to what will likely become a court that leans solidly to the right.
Some Democrats are running on the promise that if they win back the majority in the Senate, they’ll vote to preserve Obamacare, which faces a challenge before the Supreme Court that Barrett is likely to rule on. Some Democrats are promising to push to change the Senate rules to eliminate the filibuster, which would pave the way for the party to add seats to the Supreme Court, which they would pack with their own nominees.
“If the Senate Republicans confirm Judge Barrett, Democrats must move to end the filibuster and expand the Supreme Court in the next Congress,” Sen Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, tweeted a full day before Trump’s announcement.
Democrats can only make that change if they win back the majority and Biden is elected president.
Across the Capitol, Rep. Jennifer Wexton, a Virginia Democrat who flipped a Republican-held seat in 2018, quickly fired off a fundraising email about “Trump’s pick” as a threat to women. The email promised to split the donations between herself and four Democrats running against Senate incumbents John Cornyn of Texas, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Susan Collins of Maine, and in the open Kansas Senate seat.
“We are going to see many rulings in the coming years that threaten the progress so many have fought tirelessly for,” Wexton’s campaign contribution request said. “I will not stop fighting for women’s rights. I will work tirelessly in the House to undo any damage caused by future cases.”
The party’s pivot toward voters underscores Barrett’s nomination fewer than 40 days before the election. It is also a signal that Democrats know they can do little to stop Barrett from being confirmed, which will likely happen before voters cast their ballots for president and Congress.
Barrett, who models herself after a conservative favorite, the late Justice Antonin Scalia, will tilt the third branch of government 6-3 in favor of GOP appointees.
No matter how loudly Democrats object to Barrett, they can’t stop her from reaching the high court. Senate Republicans need only 51 votes to confirm Barrett, thanks to both parties taking separate steps in the past decade to eliminate judicial filibusters.
Even with Republicans Collins and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska likely to vote against advancing Barrett’s nomination, there are enough votes confirm her without needing Vice President Mike Pence to break a tie.
Democrats will likely invest their time rallying their base and luring undecided voters worried about reproductive rights or a high court shifting too far to the right.
Emily’s List, which promotes Democratic women candidates asked voters in a Saturday evening email for $3 to reach an end-of-quarter fundraising goal to help “pro-choice Democratic women take back the Senate.”
The email suggested the GOP is breaking a rule by taking up Barrett’s nomination.
“We cannot let Republicans get away with this,” the fundraising email warned. “To protect our bodies, our lives and our rights for decades to come, we have to flip the Senate.”
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