October 01, 2020

If ever there was a time to delay filling a Supreme Court vacancy, it is now


When Chuck Grassley & Joni Ernst refused to hold a hearing on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, I thought they were being racist and playing partisan politics.  They insisted that voters “needed a say” in an election year and said the rule they invented for Obama applies regardless of party affiliation.  Now suddenly their election year rule doesn’t apply.  Republicans are determined to win at all costs, especially when they are losing power.  Senator Ernst is one of the Senators most at risk of losing her seat.

The Senators who voted to impeach Trump represent 18 million more people than the Senators who voted to acquit him for his lawlessness.  To pretend that impeached President Trump should be ramming through a Supreme Court nominee to a lifetime appointment now is the wish of “the people” is a fallacy. 

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments to overturn the Affordable Care Act (ACA) one week after the election.  Conservatives hold a 5 to 3 majority on the court but fear they can’t count on Chief Justice Roberts to rip healthcare away from millions of people.  They need their ninth justice to stack the court.  Grassley & Ernst have fought against each of our safety net programs, the ACA, Social Security and Medicare since they went to Washington, D.C.  Republicans can’t eliminate these popular programs legislatively so they want to go behind closed doors or ask courts to do their dirty work. 

Republicans rally their base by pledging to stack the courts to overturn Roe v. Wade but that’s not the same as building a “pro-life” court.  Losing healthcare could be a death sentence or financial ruin for many Americans, especially in the middle of a pandemic.  Before the ACA women were routinely charged higher premiums than men.  It was virtually impossible for a young family to afford a healthcare policy that covered prenatal and newborn care in the individual marketplace.  Uninsured newborns are more likely to have adverse outcomes, including low birth weight and death, than insured newborns.  Uninsured women are more likely to have poor outcomes during pregnancy and delivery than women with insurance.  Before the ACA, people with preexisting conditions were priced out of the insurance market.  ACA programs have saved seniors more than $20 billion on prescription drugs since the law’s passage.  Before the ACA closed the Part D coverage gap, about 5 million Medicare enrollees fell into it.  Senator Ernst has voted multiple times to strip ACA benefits and protections from Iowans.  A vote to confirm another Justice now is one more vote against Ernst’s constituents.  But do you know who will benefit?  If the ACA is overturned, prescription drug corporations will get a massive tax break because right now the ACA is funded by taxing Rx companies, insurers, medical device manufacturers and rich households to pay for healthcare. If the law is struck down, the rich and corporations get to pocket that money.

If there ever was a time to delay filling a Supreme Court vacancy it is now.  Joni Ernst has allowed Trump to flout every norm and sow distrust in a free and fair election, Trump refuses to commit to a peaceful transition of power.  Trump believes a stacked court will keep him in power. 

When Justice Scalia died 269 days before the election Republicans still had 3 candidates vying for the presidential nomination and Democrats had two.  The parties didn’t settle on their candidates for 4 more months.  When Justice Ginsburg died 46 days before the election, nine states were already voting.  This isn’t just an election year vacancy, the voting has begun. 

Senator Ernst can claw back a shred of integrity by following the same rule she supported for Obama and let the next president nominate the next Justice.  If Republicans continue to put partisan politics above everything else we need to vote them all out up and down the ballot!

– Kay Pence, Vice President of the Iowa Alliance for Retired Americans

This piece was originally published in the North Scott Press on September 30th, 2020.

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