Senate must follow democratic principles in response to loss of Justice Ginsburg

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Mourners at a vigil following the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg gather at the steps of the Supreme Court in Washington, DC. Becky Davis / Oxfam America

Oxfam urges lawmakers to focus on response to pandemic before confirmation hearings

Following the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Oxfam is urging the US Senate to first pass legislation to help people struggling to survive the COVID-19 pandemic and safeguard our election process before turning to confirmation hearings.

“The Senate must instead turn its focus to hammering out the next stimulus package to fund life-saving programs that fight COVID-19,” Oxfam America’s President Abby Maxman said today.

Six months into the pandemic, more than 30 million people are unemployed, and 200,000 people have died in the United States because of COVID-19, and many Americans are worried about safely casting their ballot. Yet, the Senate has yet to pass a new, much-needed COVID-19 relief package that would provide urgent unemployment and small business support as well as assistance for those who can’t put food on the table.

Maxman also points out that the US has never appointed a Supreme Court judge so close to an election – and in this case an election in which people are already voting. “Returning to the campaign trail without providing crucial assistance, and funding to protect both mail-in and in-person voting, would be immoral and a dereliction of duty,” she said.

The process to nominate, confirm, and appoint a Supreme Court judge usually takes months. The possibility of pushing it forward so close to a contentious presidential election, the result of which could eventually be considered by the Court itself, makes altering the composition of the court to favor one candidate a threat to US democratic principles.

“The American people are in the midst of deciding who should represent them in Congress and the White House,” Maxman said. “They must be allowed to finish this process before a new justice is rushed through the confirmation process so that they can have their say on who should sit on our nation’s highest court.”

“The passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a great loss for our country. The Senate should honor her legacy and uphold the democratic process by waiting to carefully consider her replacement until after Inauguration Day.”

As the presidential election heats up, Oxfam is urging its supporters to register to vote, and encourage their friends and family to participate in the election. To get involved, and learn more about campaign issues related to inequality, climate change, and refugee rights, take the Election Pledge.

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