WASHINGTON, D.C. – In the wake of the historic loss of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, U.S. Senator Bob Menendez today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the serious consequences her Supreme Court vacancy could have for the American people.
“I fear the rush to replace her – with just 44 days left before the next presidential election – will have grave consequences for the lives of millions of Americans,” said Sen. Menendez. “Everything Americans care about and depend on is on the line – starting first and foremost with their health care.”
Below are the Senator’s remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Mr. President, our nation has suffered a historic loss in the passing of legal giant Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. And I fear the rush to replace her – with just 44 days left before the next presidential election – will have grave consequences for the lives of millions of Americans.
“As tempting as it is, I’m not here today to talk about the stunning hypocrisy of my Republican colleagues who once opposed filling any Supreme Court vacancy during a presidential election year, now changing their reasons for doing so like a willow in the wind.
“Though make no mistake – their willingness to abandon their word in the naked pursuit of power and deny the American people a voice in this process is truly stunning.
“Today, I want to talk about the consequences of their hypocrisy – not for our process here in the Senate – but rather for the lives and livelihoods of millions of families across this nation.
“Everything Americans care about and depend on is on the line – starting first and foremost with their health care. President Trump has already declared that his nominee to the Court will vote to quote-unquote “terminate” the Affordable Care Act and reverse Roe v. Wade.
“The Trump Administration is closer than ever to tearing health care away from millions of people by overturning the law. And it’s especially outrageous to see the Administration threaten the health care of millions of Americans at this perilous moment in our history.
“We are in the midst of a deadly once-in-a-century pandemic. A staggering 200,000 Americans – fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers, dear friends and beloved grandparents – are gone forever.
“Meanwhile, millions of people nationwide are infected with the coronavirus. And to this day, many survivors of COVID-19 are grappling with lasting health care challenges, from chronic shortness of breath to lifelong scar tissue in their lungs.
“We are still learning about the long-term health impacts of contracting COVID-19. But here’s one thing we do know. Every single one of these survivors now has a pre-existing condition that makes them vulnerable to insurance company discrimination without the protections guaranteed by the Affordable Care Act.
“That’s in addition to the estimated 135 million Americans who already live with common pre-existing conditions, like chronic asthma, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
“Remember what it was like before the ACA? A health insurance company could refuse to cover your care or even kick you off your plan due to your medical history.
“We don’t want to go back to those days, M. President. But that’s exactly where the Trump Administration will take us should they prevail at the Supreme Court.
“Despite what they say, the Republican mission has been clear for a decade: to kill the Affordable Care Act. To strip away health care from millions of Americans, all the while lying about how they will protect individuals with pre-existing conditions. It’s shameful.
“Just as dangerous is the prospect of a Supreme Court that will overturn Roe v. Wade and roll back the reproductive rights of women. That’s what is at stake with this Supreme Court seat: the basic principle that women have a right to make their own private medical decisions.
“The American people overwhelmingly believe that women – not the government – should be allowed to decide when they have children. And there’s no question that the right to choose is inseparable from the past half a century of progress achieved for women’s equality in the United States.
“It’s that progress that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg devoted her entire life’s work to advancing. The right of women to pursue their own destinies with full equality under the law.
“And it’s not just health care that’s on the line. It’s our voting rights. Our civil rights. Our workers’ rights, immigrant rights and LGBTQ rights. And more than that – it’s the right of the American people to see their elected representatives enact the kind of policies they support – like bold action on climate change – without corporate-backed challenges at the Supreme Court undoing their wishes.
“M. President, a Supreme Court nominee has never been confirmed this close to a presidential election. Americans are already voting, as we speak.
“Should my colleagues in the Majority abandon all their prior commitments and deny the American people the opportunity to make their voices heard, I fear we could do lasting damage to the legitimacy of the Supreme Court.
“This is an institution that rests on the trust and reverence of the American people. Losing that trust and that reverence is dangerous, M. President.
“It is dangerous for millions of people who will lose the Affordable Care Act’s protections. It is dangerous for the women who could lose the right to choose and all of us who do not want to turn back a half a century of progress.
“It is dangerous for our economy at a time when American workers and consumers find themselves at the mercy of corporations that have grown larger and more powerful than any time since the Gilded Age.
“It is dangerous for the future of our planet and safety of our climate at a time when the west is burning, seas are rising, and the earth is warming faster than ever.
“And quite frankly it is dangerous for our democracy.
“We owe the American people a voice in a decision that will shape the course of our country for generations. And we owe the memory of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her seat on the Supreme Court more than just another political power grab.”