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Democrats forced to eat words after Coney Barrett, Kavanaugh voted to uphold Obamacare

Senate Democrats called on then-Supreme-Court-nominee Amy Coney Barrett to recuse herself from Obamacare cases, warning she was a threat to the law's survival.

Updated: June 18, 2021 - 9:33am

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Supreme Court Justices Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh voted to uphold Obamacare after Democrats warned during the confirmation process for their nominations that they would gut Obamacare.

In a 7-2 ruling, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that the entire Affordable Care Act could stay intact. Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch dissented. 

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and other Democrats sounded the alarm on Kavanaugh's nomination in 2018, arguing that he was a threat to Obamacare. Schumer predicted that Kavanaugh would "would put a dagger" through the heart of the law.

"Judge Kavanaugh has written opinions skeptical of our health care law, reproductive rights, and even the contraception coverage requirement," Schumer said in 2018.

Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut shared a similar view.

"[Republicans'] new strategy is to use the court system to invalidate the protections in the law for people with pre-existing conditions," Murphy said after Trump nominated Kavanaugh. 

Following Trump's nomination of Coney Barrett last year, Schumer, then the minority leader, warned that Coney Barrett would vote to eliminate Obamacare if confirmed. Schumer went as far as to call on Coney Barrett to recuse herself from Obamacare-related cases.

"The American people should make no mistake — a vote by any Senator for Judge Amy Coney Barrett is a vote to strike down the Affordable Care Act and eliminate protections for millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions," Schumer said.

In September 2020, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi argued that Trump quickly nominated Coney Barrett so she could vote to invalidate Obamacare.

Then-Sen. Kamala Harris, a California Democrat, said Coney Barrett would vote to overturn Obamacare.

Joe Biden, who was campaigning for president at the time of the nomination, said Coney Barrett was a threat to Obamacare.

"The goal of the Republican Party for ten years was a litmus test in selecting this nominee, regardless of the damage done to the U.S. Senate, to Americans' faith in the legitimacy of the Supreme Court, and to our democracy, and regardless of how the Affordable Care Act has protected hundreds of millions of people before and during the pandemic," Biden said.

Senate Democrats who did not attend the Senate Judiciary Committee's confirmation vote on Coney Barrett in person put photos of Obamacare recipients in their seats instead in protest of her nomination.

"This has been a sham process from the beginning," Schumer said. "Amidst a global pandemic and ongoing election, Republicans are rushing to confirm a Supreme Court Justice to take away health care from millions."