BALTIMORE (September 26, 2020)—Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP, issued the following statement regarding Donald Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court:
“The NAACP condemns Donald Trump’s nomination to the Supreme Court as illegitimate and contrary to the best interests of the country. Coming in the midst of an election, Trump’s nomination—and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s vow to confirm any Trump nominee—represent a corrupt overreach by a president and Senators who place power and party over the needs of the American people.
The NAACP deeply mourns the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She was a passionate defender of equal justice—on and off the Court, and her powerful opinions and dissents on voting rights, racial justice, gender equality, and the rights of people with disabilities will be remembered forever. Her place in history as the second civil rights lawyer to serve on the Court, after Thurgood Marshall, is hugely significant to us.
Justice Ginsburg’s successor must be nominated by the next president and confirmed by the next Senate. As we noted in our joint statement by civil rights leaders, the American people are already casting votes for their next president and senators. Their voices must be heard. It is the voters who should decide who sits on the Supreme Court. Anything less represents an attack on our democracy.
When Barack Obama had a Supreme Court vacancy nine months before the 2016 election, Senate Republican leadership blocked his nominee and held the seat open for 14 months. For the same Senators to now rush a Trump nominee through confirmation would damage the legitimacy of the Senate and the Court.
The Senate should focus on the dueling national crises that are devastating the Black community. The pandemic has killed more than 200,000 Americans, with African Americans three times more likely to die. Black employees have lost jobs, Black businesses have shuttered, and Black families have been evicted. At the same time, police violence against the Black community has reached an epidemic level. What we need from the Senate is comprehensive coronavirus relief and criminal justice reform, and we need it now. The Supreme Court vacancy can wait.
The stakes around this vacancy could not be higher. The rights of African Americans to fully participate in democracy and in every facet of social and economic life, on an equal basis, lie in the balance. The next Supreme Court justice will play an outsized role in determining whether African Americans move forward in our journey toward achieving full equality, whether we simply tread water for the next decades, or whether we slide backward toward our former status as second-class citizens.
We have opposed many of Trump’s 215 judicial appointments and know exactly the type of justice he wants on the Supreme Court. Amy Coney Barrett fits the profile. Through her legal writings and three years as a judge on the Seventh Circuit, she has demonstrated she is against civil rights, workers’ rights, consumer rights, women’s rights, and accessible health care for all. For example, she upheld racial segregation in the workplace and significantly narrowed a longstanding civil rights enforcement tool. Coming after Trump’s two appointments to the Supreme Court, it is unfathomable that Trump considers himself entitled to a third nomination like Amy Barrett and that Senate leadership would blindly confirm this nomination, despite overwhelming opposition from the American people.
The NAACP has fought to protect the Supreme Court since 1930, when we helped to defeat a Herbert Hoover nominee to the Supreme Court. We will fight this illegitimate Trump nomination with everything we have because of the dangerous threat it poses to our civil rights and to the future of our democracy. At the same time, we emphatically encourage all Americans to vote. As the Supreme Court battle demonstrates, the consequences of this election could be not be greater. Our voices must be heard and honored in our democracy.”