Minnesota, Dakotas politicians react to Amy Coney Barrett's SCOTUS confirmation | INFORUM

Local News 28-10-2020 IN FORUM 44

All but one Republican senator voted to confirm Barrett, just eight days before Election Day and after tens of millions of Americans have already cast early presidential ballots, securing a conservative-majority Supreme Court for the foreseeable future. By a 52-48 vote, Senate Democrats unanimously voted against Barrett's confirmation, pointing to her past writings, opinions and experiences to question her credibility, and to the proximity of the nomination to the Nov. 3 election.

According to CNN, as of Tuesday, Oct. 27, more than 65.5 million votes have been cast early thus far in the U.S., compared to 58.3 million at this time in 2016.

From the Upper Midwest, all four Republican U.S. senators from the Dakotas favored Barrett's nomination, while both of Minnesota's Democratic senators voted against it.

South Dakota

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South Dakota's Republican U.S. Sen. John Thune, who is the U.S. Senate's second-ranking Republican, plays a key role in garnering votes in the body as majority whip. He celebrated Barrett's confirmation in a Monday statement, saying she is "extraordinarily qualified" to serve on the nation's highest court, and that she "is a person with extraordinary intelligence and comprehensive command of the law.

“Since the day she was nominated, Judge Barrett has proven that she understands the proper role of a judge in our system of government, which is to rule based on the law and the Constitution, not preferred outcomes or policy preferences," he said.

Thune's South Dakota colleague, Republican U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds, also applauded the final vote, calling Monday "a great day for the rule of law and our Founders’ vision." He said it was "an honor" to vote for Barrett's confirmation "on behalf of all South Dakotans."

South Dakota's Republican Gov. Kristi Noem, though she did not have a role in the Senate vote, was public in her support for Barrett from the start. She and 23 other Republican governors — including North Dakota's Gov. Doug Burgum — signed an Oct. 8 letter to Senate leaders calling for Barrett's confirmation.

And on Oct. 20, Noem joined Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, all Republican women, in penning an op-ed for the Montgomery Advertiser saying that they "are rightfully proud to see diversity expand among the highest levels of government."

"It is bittersweet that Judge Barrett followed her father’s advice that she could do anything her male counterparts could do, only better, and yet, sadly, millions of women appear to oppose her nomination simply because she interprets the law as-written, rather than siding with them on every issue," the governors wrote.


To the east, Minnesota's two Democratic U.S. senators starkly contrasted conservatives' celebratory tones. U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar — a member of the influential Senate Judiciary Committee that spent days hearing the nomination — was critical of Barrett's nomination from the start, calling the hearing process "a sham" earlier this month. After voting "no" on the confirmation, Klobuchar tweeted that the election will instead be "our country’s blueprint for the future."

Minnesota's Democratic U.S. Sen. Tina Smith also railed against Senate Republicans' process for confirming Barrett, calling it "an entirely illegitimate process and a disgrace to Justice (Ruth Bader) Ginsburg’s legacy" on Twitter. She said voters "deserved to have had a say in this nomination" at the polls.

"The consequences of (Barrett's) confirmation to the Supreme Court today — on health care, reproductive rights, LGBTQ+ equality, protections for immigrants, labor laws, voting rights, and so much more — will be felt for decades," Smith tweeted Monday.

Minneapolis's progressive U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar floated a more divisive political retaliation in a Monday tweet: expanding the Supreme Court beyond nine justices to add more liberals to the bench.

"Remember that Republicans have lost 6 of the last 7 popular votes, but have appointed 6 of the last 9 justices," she continued. "By expanding the court we fix this broken system and have the court better represent the values of the American people."

Minnesota Republican Party Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan in a Monday statement took jabs at Democrats who opposed the nomination, accusing Democrats of lodging "personal and faith based attacks" on Barrett. With her confirmation, Carnahan said "we have a full court, and the country is better off for it."

On the other hand, Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party Chairman Ken Martin in a Monday statement said Barrett's confirmation "was yet more proof that Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans will stop at nothing in order to fulfill his promise to 'terminate' the Affordable Care Act and protections for people with preexisting conditions." He pledged to "hold him and his Republican enablers accountable" by getting out the vote.

Many politicians and abortion-rights activists have asked what Barrett's confirmation — and the consequential conservative lean of the court — could mean for the future of Roe v. Wade's precedent and abortion access in the U.S.

Sarah Stoesz, president and CEO of the St. Paul-based Planned Parenthood North Central States, in a Monday statement expressed concern.

"From the air we breathe to our health care and our right to bodily autonomy, the Supreme Court pays a crucial role in how we live our lives every day in this country," said Stoesz, whose territory includes Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. "There are seventeen abortion-related cases that the Court could take up in the near future and their decisions will impact the lives of millions of Americans today and for generations to come, including the patients we care for every day at Planned Parenthood.”

North Dakota

Both of North Dakota's Republican U.S. Senators, Kevin Cramer and John Hoeven, voted in favor of the confirmation, with Cramer at a Monday news conference on Capitol Hill calling his vote "my obligation to the people of North Dakota as well as a high personal honor."

Cramer evoked his 2018 defeat of North Dakota's former-U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, the Democratic incumbent to the seat: In the lead-up to the election, Heitkamp came out strong against the nomination of now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and Cramer said Monday that "the Supreme Court became the No. 1 issue in the race."

“So to somehow suggest (...) this vote be delayed, to somehow wait until after the election, when people from someplace other than North Dakota might be tempted to elect a president other than Donald Trump, (...) would rightfully anger the people of North Dakota and do great damage to my conscience," he said Monday.

Hoeven congratulated Barrett in a Monday statement, saying she "has the right judicial philosophy for North Dakota and our nation, and we congratulate her on her confirmation to serve as a Justice on the United States Supreme Court.”

In a written statement, North Dakota's Democratic-NPL Party Chairwoman Kylie Oversen, on the other hand, accused Cramer and Hoeven of "put(ting) the healthcare of every North Dakotan in jeopardy by voting for a nominee that could wipe away the Affordable Care Act." She said Barrett's confirmation "will cost North Dakota federal funds that are sustaining our rural hospitals, as we face a dangerous public health crisis that is straining our healthcare system and threatening our state budget."

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