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Blumenthal, Murphy react to all-Republican Supreme Court confirmation vote

In a close vote Monday evening, Connecticut's U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, both Democrats, voted along party lines to oppose the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. The senators both spoke out following the vote, calling her confirmation devastating, scary and saddening.

Minutes after Republican senators voted to confirm the justice, Blumenthal said her confirmation constituted "a clear and present danger of a humanitarian, moral, and constitutional crisis," that would shift the nation's highest court "radically to the right."

The senator said many of his constituents had reached out, expressing fear for their future.

"I'm talking to people all around Connecticut who are scared and saddened because they're afraid of losing the protections under existing laws," Blumenthal said.

"Families with sick children are scared they won't be able to pay for their health care if the Affordable Care Act is struck down. Women are scared the Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade and punish them for their decisions about when and whether to have children," he wrote in a Twitter thread.

"LGBTQ+ couples are scared that their loving relationships will no longer be protected by law," he said.

Blumenthal and Murphy were joined by all fellow Democratic senators in voting against the confirmation. The final vote was 52 to 48 for Barrett, President Donald Trump's third nominee to the Supreme Court. She was sworn in at the White House shortly after the vote, becoming the 115th justice named to the court, replacing the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg and expanding the conservative majority in the court.

In the coming weeks, the Supreme Court will hear cases related to the Affordable Care Act and will consider reviewing Mississippi's 15-week abortion ban that challenges the precedent set in Roe v. Wade.

"This new justice is likely to shift the court dramatically to the right, with profound implications for decades to come," Blumenthal said. "Protection for people with pre-existing conditions will disappear, reproductive freedoms will be constrained, sensible gun violence prevention will be stymied."

In a statement released Monday night, Murphy said Barrett's confirmation constitutes a threat to health care access and reproductive rights. He said the case of California v. Texas, scheduled to be heard by the court Nov. 10, would end protections for 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions, "creating a humanitarian catastrophe in the middle of a global health pandemic."

Murphy said abortion rights, gun violence prevention and campaign finance reform "were next on the chopping block."

"I am both infuriated and devastated on behalf of our country," he said.

The Monday night vote was cast mostly along party lines, with only one Republican voting against the confirmation: Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine.

"We fought as best we could but they had the numbers; they did it because they could, but might does not make right," Blumenthal said.

U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, also spoke out against the confirmation. "It was tragic to see how the Supreme Court was just turned into a political football," he said.

Blumenthal also criticized the decision to confirm a justice so close to a presidential election.

In 2018, the Senate refused to vote on President Barack Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, claiming it was too close to a presidential election — eight months before Election Day. This year, the Senate voted just eight days before the election and as people across the country already have begun voting.

Murphy on Twitter said that Barrett was "rammed down our throat" in the quick confirmation.

In confirming the justice so close to the election, Blumenthal said, "Republicans broke their word, they broke the rules, they promised not to nominate or confirm anyone during an election year."

He said he was aware of at least 17 Republican senators, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, saying in the past that they would not confirm a Supreme Court justice during an election year, and that they violated the law by moving forward on the nomination without a quorum in the Judiciary Committee.

Blumenthal said those senators should be held accountable but doesn't know quite what that accountability will look like yet. He said he wants to wait to see the outcome of the election. He said he has not yet decided whether he supports expanding the Supreme Court or enforcing required retirements for justices, but thinks conversations about reform will be necessary.

Courtney also called for accountability on Election Day. "Hopefully the voters will step in and show that there are consequences to having a ham-fisted approach to what really should be the crown jewels of our country, in having the Supreme Court done in a professional and careful manner," he said.

On Twitter, Blumenthal posted a message to Connecticut residents Monday night: "To every person who is worried about what your future looks like under this SCOTUS: I'll never stop fighting for you."

"I am committed to continue fighting," he said Tuesday. "And for everyone who may be saddened or scared, you can hold these senators accountable by voting and continue to stand up and speak out."

t.hartz@theday.com

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