Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday used the Supreme Court’s 4-4 ruling on Pennsylvania’s mail-in ballots as an opportunity to rail against Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett, who, if confirmed at the end of October, may well tip the balance of the highest court in favor of conservatives.
On Monday, the Supreme Court split 4-4 in allowing Pennsylvania to continue to count mail-in ballots three days after Election Day as long as they are postmarked by Nov. 3.
Republican appointee Chief Justice Roberts voted on the side of the three Democrat appointees. Justices Neil M. Gorsuch, Brett M. Kavanaugh, Samuel A. Alito, Jr., and Clarence Thomas voted against counting ballots after election day.
“It was an important decision for democracy, but also a reminder of what is truly at stake in the Supreme Court vacancy left by Justice Ginsburg, one more vote provided by a hard-right Trump nominated justice, could be the difference between voting rights and voting suppression,” Schumer said on the Senate floor.
“Over the past several years, closely divided decisions at the Supreme Court have meant the difference between having the ability to marry the person you love or not. The ability to have your right to vote protected, or not. The ability to make personal choices about your own health care or not” added the minority leader.
Schumer, who refused to meet with Barrett before her hearings, used the Supreme Court ruling in the Pennsylvania case as an opportunity to accuse Judge Barrett of being an out-of-touch extremist who will reverse precedents.
“Her views are so far away from the American people, none of them could pass in this Senate, even though it’s controlled by Republicans, and certainly not in the House,” said Schumer.
At her confirmation hearing, Democrats on the Judiciary committee charged Barrett with the same accusations as Schumer and as being appointed to do the president’s bidding.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) on Oct. 15, the third morning of the hearings, said that President Trump has called Barrett’s impartiality into question by stating he wants the ninth Supreme Court Justice to be confirmed before Election Day.
“Now, it’s no secret why President Trump is so desperate to install Judge Barrett before the election,” said Leahy. “He said he expects his nominee to side with him in any election-related dispute. He’s made it impossible for Americans not to question Judge Barrett’s impartiality if she has to vote on such a case as a Justice.”
Leahy and other Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee have said they were disappointed that Barrett would not commit to recusing herself in certain cases, including a potential election dispute and on the Affordable Care Act.
Barrett did not commit to recusing herself in these cases, but also did not suggest she would vote in the president’s favor. Judge Barrett defended herself against critics like Schumer who say she will vote the way president Trump would want.
“I certainly hope that all members of the committee have more confidence in my integrity than to think that I would allow myself to be used as a pawn to decide this election for the American people,” Judge Barrett said.
Barrett continued, “And what I will commit to every member of this committee, to the rest of the Senate and to the American people, is that I will consider all factors that are relevant to that question, relevant to that question that requires recusal when there’s an appearance of bias.”
President Trump has gone on record to say he never discussed any future court cases or potential cases with Barrett but he has said he wants to fill the Supreme Court vacancy so there is no chance of a tie, especially in the case of mail-in voting, which he has repeatedly criticized.
“I think it’s better if you go before the election because I think this scam that the Democrats are pulling—it’s a scam—the scam will be before the United States Supreme Court,” Trump told reporters at the White House.
“I think having a 4-4 situation is not a good situation if you get that. I don’t know that you’d get that. I think it should be 8-0 or 9-0, but just in case it would be more political than it should be, I think it’s very important to have a ninth justice.”