Otago Daily Times
Democrats target Barrett on healthcare
WASHINGTON: Democratic senators, including vicepresidential nominee Kamala Harris, yesterday painted President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, as a threat to the Obamacare healthcare law during a deadly pandemic, and denounced the Republican drive to approve her before the November 3 US election.
As the Senate Judiciary Committee began its fourday confirmation hearing for Barrett, Democrats voiced their opposition even though they have little hope of derailing her nomination in the Republicanled Senate.
Republican senators praised Barrett as a worthy successor to the late liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Barrett wore a face mask as senators — some present in the room and some on video links because of Covid19 — made opening statements. Barrett, who had a bout with the coronavirus earlier in the year, removed her mask when she was sworn in to deliver her own opening statement.
‘‘I believe Americans of all backgrounds deserve an independent Supreme Court that interprets our Constitution and laws as they are written,’’ Barrett said, with her husband and six of her seven children sitting behind her.
It was the fate of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, Democratic former President Barack Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement, that was the focus of the Democrats.
Barrett has criticised a 2012 Supreme Court ruling authored by conservative Chief Justice John Roberts that upheld Obamacare.
Harris, the running mate of Trump’s Democratic election opponent Joe Biden, called the confirmation process so near an election rushed and illegitimate.
‘‘I do believe this hearing is a clear attempt to jam through a Supreme Court nominee who will take away healthcare from millions of people during a deadly pandemic that has already killed more than 214,000 Americans,’’ Harris said, speaking via a video link.
Barrett could be confirmed in time to participate in a case to be argued on November 10, in which Trump and Republicanled states are seeking to invalidate Obamacare.
Democrats displayed posters of patients who could lose their medical coverage if Obamacare is invalidated. Obamacare bars insurance companies from denying coverage to people with preexisting medical conditions.
Barrett will face questioning from senators today and tomorrow in a hearing that sets the stage for a full Senate vote by the end of October on confirming her. — Reuters