This letter was submitted to the Citrus County Chronicle on October 27, 2020 as a guest column from the Democratic Equality Caucus. The column was not published.
Our country has suffered under the tyranny of the minority for the last twenty years. In one last grab for power, Mitch McConnell rammed through a Supreme Court Justice that will shape the court for generations to come. Despite popular opinion to the contrary, the GOP pushed through the third Supreme Court Justice, nominated by a President who lost the popular vote by the largest margin in history. This last gasp of a party that has long since thrown away the principles it was founded upon shows a particular hubris that must not go unchallenged and must be beaten back into the darkness from whence it came.
In one fell swoop the Court now has the power to discard policies and laws that the majority of Americans favor. Our current President hates the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – and while he claims that via an Executive Order that he has the power to restore the Pre-Existing Conditions protections that are part of the ACA when this Court strikes down the Act, he does not, The Executive Order he signed contains no teeth and no technical specifics that would make it enforceable. Gallup polling from December 2019 shows that 43% of Americans live in households with pre-existing conditions. This reporting was done before the COVID-19 pandemic which has now touched nearly 9 million Americans. Removing those protections means insurance companies can deny someone coverage for everything from Diabetes to a past Covid diagnosis.
In 2014, the Court ruled that nearly half of American workers could be denied contraceptive coverage by their employer. This denial of coverage extends to the use of these drugs for non-contraceptive reasons including treatment of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and endometriosis. Abortion rates are directly tied to the availability of contraceptives, and despite more countries passing laws in favor of women’s rights, the global abortion rate has declined for 25 years. Justice Barrett’s stance on Roe V. Wade was well documented in the days leading up to her confirmation, yet despite recent Gallup polls showing 79% of Americans supporting some form of abortion rights, the GOP confirmed a justice who’s anti-abortion stance is contray to public opinon. Understand that this has become a double edged sword – women are being denied access to contraceptives by their employers which leads to potentially medically non-viable pregnancies. Under a reversal of Roe v. Wade, even those medically necessary abortions could be prohibited.
In recent days the Catholic Church has reversed its stance on same sex unions. This slowly changing institution has finally caught up to the modern era. Over two-thirds of Americans take this one step further and support same sex marriage. Justice Barrett was an acolyte of Justice Scalia, who not only voted against the landmark decisions that granted same sex couples the right to marry, but along with Justice Thomas, he dissented in the case that decriminilized homsexuality. Her addition to the Court threatens to turn back the civil rights of millions of Americans. Her published opinions show a stark departure from our Constitution’s separation of Church and State – and often push her faith over established legal precedence as reasoning in her decisions.
The GOP has made their endgame clear with the confirmation of this incredibly radical justice. Their policies are not supported by the majority of Americans. And yes, the confirmation of this justice will ensure minority rule for a generation to come. It will not matter what our representatives legislate to ensure rights and protection for our most marginalized citizens. As long as a Republican leader can bring a case to the Supreme Court, that Supreme Court will undermine any legislative gains we can make to move this country forward. Our country has a choice – to elect leaders who enact policies and laws that are detrimental to all but the wealthiest of Americans or to support those leaders that will\ restores our place as a bastion of science, civil rights and leader on the world stage.