Weekly Democratic Address
July 13, 2018
Hello, I’m Senator Richard Blumenthal. I’m proud to represent Connecticut in the United States Senate.
We are at a historic turning point for our country. At the end of June, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement and barely a week later, President Trump nominated a replacement: Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
Now, the Senate itself is also at a crossroads. It’s our Constitutional responsibility, with the support of our constituents, to consider the next Justice of the United States Supreme Court – the highest court in the land, a branch of government that will shape the law and culture of this country for generations to come. All of us will have to answer to history.
Ordinarily, presidents make every effort to persuade us that their nominees were picked on the basis of merit, not political dogma.
But we now live in times that are the opposite of ordinary. This President – in a dramatic departure from his predecessors – set extreme ideological litmus tests for this Supreme Court nominee. During the 2016 election, then-Candidate Trump promised to erode vital health care protections – saying that he was “disappointed in [Justice] Roberts because he gave us Obamacare.” And when asked whether being “pro-life” is a litmus test for his SCOTUS nominees, said [quote], “It is. It is.” [End quote.]
From President Trump’s repeated campaigns’ promises, we know that Judge Kavanaugh poses a grave threat to women’s health care and the weakening of Roe v. Wade. We know he will vote to effectively eliminate the Affordable Care Act and undermine protections for millions of Americans who suffer from pre-existing conditions, including more than 500,000 Connecticut residents.
We know all of this in part because Judge Kavanaugh’s record reveals a deep hostility to both women’s reproductive freedom and our country’s health care system.
But just as importantly – we know this because we’ve heard it from none other than the President of the United States. President Trump told us that his nominee would automatically overturn Roe v. Wade. He berated Chief Justice Roberts for upholding vital health protections in his decisive swing vote.
When a president tells you he’s trying to eliminate basic rights and liberties for the people of the United States, you take him at his word. And I do.
If President Trump’s own words weren’t evidence enough, he has also allowed himself to become a puppet of right-wing fringe groups – the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation – that have been trying to strike down Roe v. Wade for decades and working to undermine vital reforms to our health care laws since the very day they were passed.
These prospects are not abstract. In the blink of an eye, the Court could return us to the dark days when women died because they lacked access to safe, legal reproductive health care. It could return us to the days when Americans with diabetes or high blood pressure – or even pregnant women – could be denied affordable health coverage because an insurance company classified them as having a preexisting condition.
My colleagues and I are often asked by constituents: what can we do?
The answer is: stand up and speak out. It’s a call to action. Mobilize your neighbors and galvanize the American public – just as we did during the health care debate, when they tried time and again to ram through Trumpcare. The risk to our health care system is just as great now as it was then.
To the patients who came to my town halls in Connecticut and spoke so powerfully about their fear of losing health insurance because of a pre-existing condition, your time has come. To the women who rely on affordable, accessible contraceptive coverage to plan their families and pursue their careers – and the men who know that protecting reproductive freedom is a shared responsibility – your time has come. The bell tolls for you.
We do not live in ordinary times. We need extraordinary efforts to make sure that the United States Supreme Court remains faithful to the rule of law and our shared values.