News & Politics

Pelosi Calls Amy Coney Barrett an 'Illegitimate Supreme Court Justice'

AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

On Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) condemned Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barret as “illegitimate” because President Donald Trump nominated her in the lead-up to the 2020 election.

Speaking to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), Pelosi listed off reasons why she thinks Democrats should get out and vote. She focused on the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic, accusing President Donald Trump of trying to crush Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act.

She claimed Trump is “waging his deadly lawsuit to destroy protections for pre-existing conditions and every other benefit of the Affordable Care Act.” (Trump has promised to ensure coverage for people with pre-existing conditions should Obamacare get struck down.)

Pelosi claimed Trump has demonstrated a “contempt for science.” Then she turned to Amy Coney Barrett.

“The president is installing an illegitimate Supreme Court justice just one week before the election — after 60 million Americans had voted — who will dismantle the ACA, and won’t say, by the way, when asked, by Senator Feinstein, do you think Medicare is constitutional? She said she really couldn’t say,” Pelosi said.

It appears Pelosi meant to claim that Amy Coney Barrett is an illegitimate Supreme Court justice because the Senate confirmed her in the week before the election. However, the Senate has confirmed Supreme Court justices even later into election years, specifically after elections had already happened. The Senate has even confirmed Supreme Court justices nominated by lame-duck presidents before.

Pelosi’s claim likely traces back to the common liberal misunderstanding of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) standard on Supreme Court confirmations. Since McConnell blocked the Senate from considering Barack Obama’s third Supreme Court appointee, Merrick Garland, in an election year, Democrats claim that McConnell opposed all election-year Supreme Court confirmations.

Not so. After the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016, McConnell said, “You’d have to go back to 1888 when Grover Cleveland was in the White House to find the last time a Senate of a different party from the president confirmed a nominee for the Supreme Court in an election year.”

On Sunday, he noted that Supreme Court vacancies have arisen in election years 15 times. In seven of those cases, “voters had elected an opposite-party Senate to check and balance the sitting president. In those situations, only two of the seven were confirmed, and none since 1888.”

In the other eight cases, the same party held the Senate and the presidency. In seven of those eight cases, the Senate confirmed the president’s nominee. In the one case where that did not happen, the Senate rejected the nominee due to a personal scandal.

In other words, McConnell opposed the Republican-majority Senate taking up a Democratic president’s Supreme Court nominee in an election year.

Contrary to Democrats’ accusations, the nomination and confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett were entirely legitimate.

There is no doubt about Amy Coney Barrett’s intelligence or competence for the job.

Nancy Pelosi should be ashamed of herself.

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Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.

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