Republicans Turn to Gaslighting Americans About Amy Coney Barrett’s Record

09.30.20

Pressed during last night’s debate on the possibility that Amy Coney Barrett could help overturn Roe v. Wade, Donald Trump deflected from his long standing position that his justices would “automatically” overturn the ruling. It’s just the latest example of Republicans facing the voters in November running away from the extreme track record that’s made Amy Coney Barrett so popular with the far-right.

There’s no question about what Barrett’s record actually shows — but the fact that Republicans aren’t willing to stand by it when they’re facing the voters shows just how unpopular this rushed confirmation is turning out to be.

The truth: The Affordable Care Act and Roe v. Wade are in serious jeopardy if Barrett is confirmed — and that’s part of why she was picked in the first place.

Barrett’s track record couldn’t be clearer. She has criticized both major Supreme Court cases upholding the Affordable Care Act, and she has written about her willingness to overturn precedent, adopted the language of the anti-Roe movement, and implied Roe v. Wade was an “erroneous” decision. She was the favorite choice of anti-ACA, anti-Roe v. Wade activists in the selection process because she has a clear track record on these issues. One analyst says her “demonstrated hostility to the ACA has to be one of the most explicit paper trails for a Court nominee on a major controversial issue in modern times.”

Republicans themselves have made this clear! Just hours before Trump took the debate stage Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley said, “she understands that Roe was really an act of judicial imperialism that was wrongly decided.” Sen. Mike Lee reiterated this weekend that he believes the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional and that that fact “shouldn’t tarnish Judge Barrett.” Trump himself even tweeted this weekend about the Affordable Care Act being “terminated in the Supreme Court.”

For more, read Demand Justice’s research on Barrett’s track record on ACA and Roe v. Wade.

But when they face the voters, Republicans are gaslighting Americans about what Barrett was selected to do.

In debates and interviews, Republicans who have to worry about the upcoming election are running away from Barrett’s real record:

  • Trump said during the debate last night “you don’t know [Barrett’s] view on Roe v. Wade; you don’t know her view.” This despite the fact that Trump himself said Roe’s demise would “happen automatically” with his justices on the Court and talked about Barrett overturning it this weekend.
  • Sen. Joni Ernst, who earlier this year signed an amicus brief inviting the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, said during a debate: “I think the likelihood of Roe v. Wade being overturned is very minimal. I don’t see that happening.”
  • Sen. Steve Daines, who has himself voted several times to repeal the Affordable Care Act, said of the lawsuit supported by the Trump administration, Republican attorneys general, multiple Republican judges at the lower court level, and Daines himself: “it’s highly unlikely they’ll overturn the ACA.”
  • Sen. Mitch McConnell downplayed the likelihood Barrett would end the ACA: “This mother of 7 including multiple children who were born or adopted facing pre-existing condition medical challenges is just itching to block families like hers from accessing medical care. What a joke.” Of course, McConnell has voted repeatedly to let insurance companies deny people with preexisting conditions access to health coverage.

Conservative commentators from Ramesh Ponnuru to Hoover Institution Senior Fellow Michael McConnell to the Wall Street Journal editorial board are getting in on the game too — assuring Americans that Republicans are rushing Barrett through because they have no idea whether she would deliver on conservatives’ most cherished policy goals.

What’s going on? Republicans can read polls, and they know that Barrett’s real track record is toxic with the vast majority of Americans.

Morning Consult: Obamacare Support Hits Record High as Supreme Court Faces Ideological Shift

“With the survival of the Affordable Care Act in jeopardy following President Donald Trump’s nomination of conservative Judge Amy Coney Barrett to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court, a new Morning Consult poll finds a record-high 62 percent of voters in support of the 2010 health law.

NBC News: Poll: Majority of adults don’t support overturning Roe v. Wade

Sixty-six percent of adults say they don’t believe the Supreme Court should completely overturn the decision that established a woman’s right to an abortion nationwide in at least the first three months of a pregnancy. Twenty-nine percent of adults say they do want the court to completely overturn the ruling.  

New York Times: 56 percent said they would be less likely to vote for Mr. Trump if his justice would help overturn Roe v. Wade, while just 24 percent said they would be more inclined to vote for him.  

New York Times: Fifty-seven percent of voters, including nearly two-thirds of independents, said they supported the Affordable Care Act.