Confirming Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court would put marriage equality in jeopardy, Kamala Harris, U.S. senator from California and Democratic vice-presidential nominee, said in her opening statement Monday in the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on Barrett's nomination.
Most Democratic members of the committee have focused on the danger to the Affordable Care Act if Barrett is confirmed to the court, and Harris did spend a substantial amount of time on this, while Republican members touted Barrett's qualifications (and her large family) and accused liberals of being prejudiced against conservative women.
Harris noted that the court will hear a case November 10 on whether the ACA should be struck down, which is something Donald Trump's administration has asked it to do. Some 23 million Americans would lose their health insurance if the ACA is invalidated, she said.
But she also said much more is at stake, citing historic Supreme Court decisions such as "Loving v. Virginia and Obergefell v. Hodges, which recognized that love is love and that marriage equality is the law of the land." In Loving, the court struck down all state laws against interracial marriage, and in Obergefell, it did the same to laws against same-sex marriage.
Barrett, who has criticized the Obergefell ruling, would succeed Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died in September. Placing Barrett on the court would jeopardize Ginsburg's legacy, which included support for women's rights, LGBTQ+ equality, workers' rights, and more, Harris said.
Something the senator did not mention was that two conservative justices, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, recently said they would like to see Obergefell overturned. There is no case against marriage equality currently pending, but they essentially invited one.
Harris, who spoke remotely from her Senate office, criticized the Republican-led committee for holding in-person hearings during a pandemic and for rushing Barrett's nomination through before the presidential election so she can hear the ACA case.
"Republicans finally realized that the Affordable Care Act is too popular to repeal in Congress, so now they are trying to bypass the will of voters and have the Supreme Court do their dirty work," she said.