WASHINGTON — Minnesota U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar recalled her husband’s and her father’s battles with COVID-19 Monday as she implored Americans to be vocal in their opposition to the “sham” confirmation hearings of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.
“It’s personal,” Klobuchar said in a widely seen statement on the opening day of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearings on Barrett, President Donald Trump’s pick to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
In a voice sometimes shaking with emotion, Klobuchar explained her opposition to Barrett by invoking the names of family members and fellow Minnesotans struck by the coronavirus, as well as of other state residents with pre-existing medical conditions.
Like other Democrats on the GOP-led panel, Klobuchar framed her opposition to Barrett in terms of her belief that the conservative judge would be a threat to women’s rights and the Obama-era Affordable Care Act, including its protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
She recalled her husband’s battle with COVID-19 early in the pandemic and her father’s fight with the virus in the nursing home in Minnesota.
While calling the hearing a “sham,” Klobuchar acknowledged that Democrats can do little to stop the Republican majority from confirming Barrett ahead of the Nov. 3 election. The “secret weapon,” she said, would be Americans “voting in droves” to show their disdain for a justice who could vote to kill the Affordable Care Act in the middle of a pandemic.
A GOP challenge to the health care law is expected before the high court in November.
Klobuchar, the only Minnesotan on the panel, criticized her Republican colleagues for forcing Barrett’s nomination through the approval process in short order. Democrats have argued that the same committee refused to consider Obama nominee Merrick Garland for nine months in 2016, saying they had to wait for a new president to choose.
Barrett’s legal positions run counter to many of the legal safeguards currently in place, including “where you go to school” and “your own body,” Klobuchar said, in a reference to abortion rights.
“To the women of America,” she said, “we have come so far and should not go backward.”
She added that while wheels of justice turn slowly, “injustice can move at lightning speed.”
The former Democratic presidential hopeful never criticized Barrett’s deep Catholic faith, which has been a focus of some of the judge’s critics. Rather, she sought to portray her social conservatism as out of step with mainstream American values.
“This isn’t Donald Trump’s country,” Klobuchar said in a speech that was carried live to millions of television viewers. “It is yours. This shouldn’t be Donald Trump’s judge. It should be yours.”
Jim Spencer • 202-662-7432
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