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LOS ANGELES, October 22, 2020 – MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund), the leading legal voice for Latinos in the U.S., today denounced the Senate Judiciary Committee decision to support the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Today, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee moved to rush through the Barrett nomination less than two weeks before the presidential election. The Republican-led committee, ignoring its own rules that require members of the minority party be present to move forward, unilaterally voted 12-0 to recommend her confirmation to the full Senate.

The unprecedented move to jam through a Supreme Court nominee conflicts with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s rationale in 2016 for refusing to allow a vote to confirm a nominee to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, who passed away in February of that year. At the time, McConnell argued any vote should be delayed until after the election because the “American people should have a voice in the selection of the next Supreme Court justice.”

Please attribute the following statement to MALDEF President and General Counsel Thomas A. Saenz:  

Today’s cavalier disregard of Senate rule and protocol should embarrass anyone who purports to believe in following the original intent of Constitutional framers.  Those who ratified the Constitution plainly anticipated the risk of political rivalry and of crass political gamesmanship in service of that political contention, but they put in place measures to avoid the worst aspects of such behavior while counting on basic fairness and national political norms to prevent other shenanigans.

Unfortunately, the irony of senators rushing to confirm an originalist jurist by running roughshod over political norm and discernable original intent is lost on those, such as Chairman Lindsey Graham, who are single-mindedly seeking to pack the Supreme Court in apparent anticipation of a monumental electoral loss in November.  Still, the unprecedented and unsupportable nature of the Judiciary Committee’s conduct should not escape the notice of Judge Barrett.  She has stood by and done nothing as senators undertake sharp practices in her name that are anti-democratic and plainly inconsistent with the Senate’s constitutional duty to provide ‘advice’ and consent.

Judge Barrett’s complicity in Senate misconduct is compounded by her extreme lack of candor during the confirmation hearings.  This lack of transparency in testimony and documentary provision has deprived the nation of an adequate airing of her qualifications.  Specifically missing has been any assessment of her knowledge and familiarity with the main legal concerns of the Latino community, which now comprises one-fifth of the country and will, during Barrett’s tenure on the bench, become an even larger component of our national democratic enterprise.

Being an active accessory to violation of national political norms and constitutional imperative should disqualify anyone from service on the nation’s highest court.

Time yet remains to end this travesty.  The full Senate should reject the confirmation of nominee Amy Coney Barrett.  

Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation’s leading Latino legal civil rights organization.  Often described as the “law firm of the Latino community,” MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit: www.maldef.org.