Trump court nominee Barrett tied to group advocating criminalization of homosexuality
Donald Trump with his SCOTUS nominee, Amy Coney Barrett. | Alex Brandon/AP

A major national union, the American Federation of Teachers, is exposing Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, for her connections to a hate group espousing criminalization of homosexuality.

Barrett has apparently been paid for speeches she delivered to the right-wing hate group, the “Alliance Defending Freedom.”

In its statement, at www.aft.org/press, AFT President Randi Weingarten cites a 2017 financial disclosure report showing Barrett, while a law professor at Notre Dame, was paid $4,200 in two installments to speak to the organization.

The Washington Post reported Sept. 28 that Barrett spoke several times to the group, starting in 2014.

The Indianapolis Star reported on July 8, 2017, that “when she was a law professor, Barrett gave an hour presentation on constitutional law to a legal fellowship program’” the alliance sponsored for right-wing “Christian” law students.

“The Southern Poverty Law Center called the Alliance Defending Freedom an ‘anti-LGBT hate group’ that supports recriminalization of homosexuality, linked homosexuality to pedophilia, and worked on legislation that would allow gays and lesbians to be denied goods and services on the basis of religion,” AFT added.

But it’s Barrett’s overall record against workers’ rights, women’s rights, reproductive choice, and the Affordable Care Act that prompted AFL-CIO President Trumka, Weingarten, and other union and progressive leaders, from NARAL to the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, to oppose Trump’s nomination of her.

They are among the first organizations to launch active campaigns to stop the federal appellate judge from ascending to the U.S. Supreme Court, succeeding the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

All the foes, including AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, cite Barrett’s court rulings and law journal articles opposing the Affordable Care Act, reproductive choice, workers’ rights, civil rights, and immigrants’ rights, among other issues, as reasons to defeat her nomination by GOP White House occupant Donald Trump—and the GOP-run Senate’s rush to put her on the High Court bench.

Barrett’s rulings and articles also reveal a pro-corporate pro-capitalist tilt and against workers and consumers, legal analysts, and OPEIU President Richard Lanigan note.

“Her successful appointment to the court will tilt its makeup even further in favor of corporate interests and against working people, and will uproot hard-fought progress made on healthcare, workers’ and women’s rights, and could prove the death knell in the fight against corporate exploitation, climate change and restriction of reproductive rights,” his statement said.

“Judge Barrett has proven she is not a friend of working people. Her appointment would immediately threaten the future of the Affordable Care Act, on which millions of Americans depend. We owe it to those who came before and to those who will come after us to oppose this nomination…OPEIU opposes and is mobilizing against Trump’s decision.”

“It’s troubling but not surprising Donald Trump weaponized this nomination to seek political advantage without regard to what’s at stake for Americans,” said SPLC Executive Director Margaret Huang.

“Millions of us will be in peril of losing access to healthcare and equal justice, funding for public education, voting rights, and protections for immigrant communities and lower-income Americans.

The Barrett nomination is also inevitably a part of the election campaign, including at the first presidential debate, on Sept. 29, between Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, the labor-backed Democratic nominee, who also demands a delay. Senate hearings on the nomination open Oct. 12.

Barrett’s ascension would cement a six-person High Court majority that would kill the Affordable Care Act, worker rights, and reproductive rights, while cementing corporate control of the U.S. system, all the organizations contend.

The ACA’s future, and with it the future of health care for everyone in the U.S., comes up before the justices on Nov. 10. Trump’s regime sides with a red-state lawsuit to declare the ACA unconstitutional and toss it, and its protectionsespecially those for people with pre-existing conditionscompletely out. Trump’s solicitor general will argue against the ACA in that hearing. The Service Employees have filed a friend-of-the-court brief defending the ACA.

The ACA is just one reason unions and other organizations oppose Barrett. They also cite her rulings on the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, including recent rulings against gig workers and immigrants, as well as her legal journal writing against the ACA, and her advocacy of overturning past High Court rulings pell-mell.

One such overturn is what the GOP-named five-man court majority did when it threw out a 42-year-old precedent in the key Janus union case. That made virtually every state and local government worker in the U.S. a “free rider,” able to use union protections and services without paying one red cent for them.

But only NNU and OPEIU have launched active anti-Barrett campaigns so far, while the Auto Workers set up a number for people to call senators to oppose her.

“Before her passing,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose place Barrett would take, “told her family she wished for her seat to remain vacant until after a new president takes office, so American voters are able to make their opinions known on the direction our nation will take,” UAW said.

“It’s our job to make sure that wish is honored. CALL YOUR SENATOR AT 313-528-6780 AND TELL THEM TO WAIT TO FILL RBG’S SEAT UNTIL AFTER A NEW PRESIDENT TAKES OFFICE.” (UAW’s capitalization).

“Barrett’s judicial record also suggests she will be another far-right vote in favor of corporate business interests over the rights of workers, again in direct reversal to the years of Justice Ginsberg’s views,” NNU Executive Director Bonnie Castillo, RN, concluded at the end of a long union analysis of her record, available at www.nationalnursesunited.org/press.

“NNU will urge the Senate to reject her confirmation,” said Castillo. “We will continue to join with our health care, women’s, community, and labor allies to insist Justice Ginsburg’s seat on the court be left to the winner of the November election to fillthe very precedent the Senate itself set in 2016.”

Other unions, plus the AFL-CIO, question the rush to name her to the nation’s top tribunal, and oppose her in person, too. But they haven’t said what they would do about it either in the streets or by phone, lobbying or e-mail.

Other groups aren’t as reticent. For example, NARAL marshaled a protest on Sept. 27 at the court. And 100 clergy, led by the Revs. William Barber II and Liz Theoharis of the New Poor People’s Campaign, marched in D.C. on Sept. 29 against the Barrett nomination.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, which the AFL-CIO is a member of, put the banner “It’s Our Court, Not Trump’s” on its website carousel at www.civilrights.org, with a link to a prepared letter to senators to oppose the Barrett nod. Signers could edit the letter before e-mailing it.

More typical of the unions’ stand was Trumka’s statement. He decried the rush to seat her and opposed her because of her record, too. But he didn’t say whether, when, and how workers should mobilize to stop the nomination.

“A lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court demands a thoughtful, fair and deliberate process that honors ‘We the People,’” Trumka said. “We are now in store for a sham from a Senate devoid of both rules and integrity.

“Working families know the profound impact this jurist will have on generations to come. That’s why it’s so disappointing Trump and the Senate Republican majority conspired to rush through Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the highest court in the land.

“Judge Barrett’s record demonstrates a clear disdain for workers’ rights, and her confirmation would push the most corporate-friendly Supreme Court in history further into the pockets of the wealthy elite. Working people’s wages, health care, job safety, civil rights, and freedom to form a union will all be undermined if she is confirmed. Judge Barrett is the wrong person at the wrong time.”

Trump nominated Barrett for the ninth seat on the court, left vacant when longtime Justice Ginsburg died on the evening of Sept. 18, as sunset was occurring and the Jewish holy day of Rosh Hashanah was starting. Ginsburg was one of three Jewish justices.

Besides Trumka, AFT, the Auto Workers, OPEIU, and National Nurses United, other unions opposing the Barrett nomination—on the grounds that a decision should be left until next year—include the Amalgamated Transit Union, the Service Employees, the Communications Workers, and the National Education Association.

“Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s track record shows she is no friend of the labor movement. If Judge Barrett is confirmed, it would be an unmitigated disaster for workers’ rights, civil rights, and our country,” said ATU President John Costa.

Before citing Barrett’s linkage with the hate group, Weingarten also criticized both Trump and the Senate for the rush to put Barrett on the court while ignoring the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, including the resulting U.S. depression and millions of jobless. Other unions echoed that theme.

“In the middle of a global pandemic, an economic recession, a much-needed reckoning with racism, and an ongoing climate crisis devastating the South and West, this White House and GOP-led Senate can’t find the time to work with congressional Democrats to pass a COVID-19 relief package providing help to millions of struggling families, but they can jam a Supreme Court nominee through against the wishes of a majority of Americans,” Weingarten said.

“And they’re doing it while the president doubles down on his threat to defy the peaceful transition of power, making clear they have no problem using the court to rig the election in their favor. This is a dangerous new low,” added Weingarten, a New York City civics teacher.

“The Supreme Court is a cornerstone of our democracy and the final arbiter of our Constitution. It rules on issues that affect people’s lives every day, including imminently on healthcare and protections for people with pre-existing conditions. The court is a critical check and balance against tyranny and a defender of the rule of law. Yet right-wing extremist special interests are attempting to pack the court with ideologues in a self-serving political ploy meant to sabotage our independent judiciary.”


CONTRIBUTOR

Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of Press Associates Inc. (PAI), a union news service in Washington, D.C. that he has headed since 1999. Previously, he worked as Washington correspondent for the Ottaway News Service, as Port Jervis bureau chief for the Middletown, NY Times Herald Record, and as a researcher and writer for Congressional Quarterly. Mark obtained his BA in public policy from the University of Chicago and worked as the University of Chicago correspondent for the Chicago Daily News.

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