How Vermont’s congressional delegation reacted to Trump’s pick for U.S. Supreme Court

Vermont’s top lawmakers condemned the move by President Donald Trump and Republican lawmakers to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court left by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died 10 days ago. 

Trump has nominated Amy Coney Barrett, 48, who currently sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit. All three Vermont lawmakers have said that the next president should fill the vacancy on the court, just as Republican lawmakers argued when President Barack Obama tried to fill a vacancy on the court nine months before the 2016 election

Judge Amy Coney Barrett speaks after President Donald Trump announced her nomination to the Supreme Court in the Rose Garden at the White House, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020, in Washington.

Ginsburg held her seat on the high court for 27 years, according to reporting by USA TODAY. Last week, she became the first woman and first Jewish person to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol.

“Justice Ginsburg hasn’t even been laid to rest yet,” U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, said on Saturday in reaction to Trump’s nomination.  

“With this vacancy, Republicans see the potential for a wholly partisan Court — an extension of their raw political power,” he added in an emailed statement. “This is why they have gone back on their word, contradicting and twisting every argument they made in 2016 about the American people needing a voice during an election year vacancy. This is why Republicans are willing to ignore the clear majority of Americans who today believe the next president should fill this vacancy.”

What else did Vermont’s three federal lawmakers have to say about the nomination?

Sen. Patrick Leahy

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., answers reporters questions on Sunday, March 24, 2019, at the Burlington International Airport in South Burlington about the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian election interference.

Despite misgivings about Republicans’ “mad rush” to fill the vacancy weeks before the November general election, Leahy said he would scrutinize Barrett’s nomination “as I have the 19 others over my 46 years in the Senate with an exhaustive examination of her record.

“Yet a dark cloud looms over this nomination, as President Trump and Senate Republicans are dispensing with any sense of basic decency — along with every single precedent and principle the Senate once stood for — in order to reshape the Court to deprive millions of Americans of health care and unravel their constitutional protections,” Leahy wrote. 

“Justice Ginsburg would have dissented against this transparent effort to dismantle Americans’ hard-fought rights. And so should we all.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders 

Bernie Sanders reacts to Super Tuesday results during a press conference on March 4 in Burlington, Vermont.

Unlike Leahy, Sanders said he outright opposed Barrett’s nomination.

“We must fight as hard as we can to ensure that this nominee is not confirmed,” he wrote in a statement.

“President Trump and Senate Republicans have badly mismanaged a deadly pandemic for months,” Sanders wrote. “Now, in the midst of an unprecedented public health crisis, they are willing to ram through a Supreme Court nominee—within days—who will vote to destroy the Affordable Care Act, kick millions of Americans off their health care, and eliminate protections for millions more who have preexisting conditions. This is an absolute outrage.”

Sanders called the effort to confirm Barret “cynical,” and said she would likely roll back protections for women, workers, voters, people of color, the LGBT community and the environment.

Rep. Peter Welch

Rep. Peter Welch speaks after his midterm victory at the Hilton in Burlington, Vermont on Tuesday, November 6, 2018.

Welch, Vermont’s lone member of the U.S. House of Representatives, did not release a statement commenting directly on Barrett’s nomination. However, he did side with Leahy and Sanders in saying there should be no Senate vote to confirm a new U.S. Supreme Court Justice before the next president has taken office.

“As the Senate carefully considers a replacement, it is clear that they must adhere to the ‘McConnell Standard,’ and wait until the new year to make their decision,” Welch wrote in a statement Sept. 18. “We are at the doorstep of one of the most important elections of our lifetime. In his own words, Senator (Mitch) McConnell has made clear that he is content to ‘let the American people decide.'” 

Contact Elizabeth Murray at 802-651-4835 or emurray@freepressmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter at @LizMurrayBFP.

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