(Washington, D.C.) – One-thousand-five-hundred members of the private bar have signed-on to a letter sent to the United States Senate today, urging them to postpone confirmation of a new Supreme Court Justice until after the 2020 election has been decided and the next president is inaugurated. The letter, organized by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, asserts the Senate must follow its precedent of not confirming Justices while an election is already underway and this close to being decided, or risk damaging the legitimacy of our courts in upholding the rule of law. In addition, the politicization of the new justice’s appointment will damage the American’s confidence in the Supreme Court and our democracy.
The attorneys believe it is highly inappropriate for a new justice to be appointed until the next president is inaugurated and the new Senate has been seated. In 2016, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to allow a hearing or vote following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia nine months before the election, claiming the American people should decide who chooses the next justice. While there is precedence for a nominee to be confirmed more than six months before a presidential election, never before in our country’s history has a new Supreme Court Justice been confirmed in the midst of an election.
“It would simply be unprecedented to allow a confirmation process to proceed while Americans across the country are actively casting ballots in the middle of a presidential general election,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Members of the private bar as well as the civil rights community hold the Supreme Court in the highest regard as it plays a pivotal role in ensuring the protection of our constitutional and civil rights. With President Trump and the Senate leader bent on racing forward to fill this vacancy in the middle of an ongoing election, we run the risk of politicizing the Court in ways that will prove damaging across our justice system for generations to come.”
“In the United States, the will of the people is carried out by the fundamental right to vote, and we must allow voters, who have already begun to cast their ballot, to determine who will choose our next Supreme Court Justice,” said Erinn Martin, policy counsel on the Public Policy Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “The Senate should not break precedent, just to fill the vacant seat before the election.”
“As a nation, we should be taking this time to mourn the passing of one of the most influential jurists of our time, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg,” said Traci Feit Love, president of Lawyers for Good Government. “Instead, the Senate is considering replacing her in an unprecedented mad dash after mail-in and early voting have already begun and with less than 40 days until Election Day. This could forever damage the public’s faith in our nation’s highest court, and undermine the rule of law. For the sake of our country, we ask the Senate to postpone consideration of any Supreme Court nominee until after the federal elections now in process have been decided, the new Senate seated, and the President inaugurated on January 20, 2021.”
Read the full letter here.