WASHINGTON—American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten issued the following statement in response to President Donald Trump’s nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court:
“In the middle of a global pandemic, an economic recession, a much-needed reckoning with racism, and an ongoing climate crisis devastating the South and West, this White House and GOP-led Senate can’t find the time to work with congressional Democrats to pass a COVID-19 relief package providing help to millions of struggling families, but they can jam a Supreme Court nominee through against the wishes of a majority of Americans. And they’re doing it while the president doubles down on his threat to defy the peaceful transition of power, making clear they have no problem using the court to rig the election in their favor. This is a dangerous new low.
“The Supreme Court is a cornerstone of our democracy—and the final arbiter of our Constitution. It rules on issues that affect people’s lives every day, including imminently on healthcare and protections for people with pre-existing conditions. The court is a critical check and balance against tyranny and a defender of the rule of law—yet right-wing extremist special interests are attempting to pack the court with ideologues in a self-serving political ploy meant to sabotage our independent judiciary. Sixteen Supreme Court vacancies have arisen during a presidential election year, but the Senate has never confirmed a nominee this close to the election or inauguration. To do so would be a devastating blow to our democracy, in a time when the American people deserve a transparent and fair process led by a president they elect in November.
“Our rights and the future of our democracy are at stake, but President Trump has shown us again that he’s incapable of picking judges who will safeguard our rights. Judge Coney Barrett needs to go through the same rigorous vetting as any other Supreme Court nominee. Otherwise, how do we not conclude what is now obvious? She was chosen because powerful interests know she’s on their side—she’s given paid lectures to organizations labeled as hate groups and said publicly that provisions of the Affordable Care Act are an assault on religious liberty. We need a justice who won’t pick and choose whose rights to defend, but one who will work to protect equal justice for all.”