In the wake of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing, People For the American Way hosted a tele-town hall on September 21 to honor Ginsburg’s legacy and discuss the campaign to let the people decide who should succeed her on the Supreme Court. The fight comes as health coverage, especially for preexisting conditions, is at greater risk than ever from a new Trump justice on the Supreme Court.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced one hour after Justice Ginsburg’s death that he would break all precedent to rush a vote on Donald Trump’s nominee to the highest court in our country. His haste reveals his ruthlessness in in advancing Trump’s goal of dismantling health care protections for already vulnerable people nationwide, even amid a pandemic that has left millions of people with a preexisting condition.
With Election Day just five weeks away, early voting is already underway in many states. Yet Mitch McConnell and many Republicans in the Senate are racing to confirm a nominee that has not yet even been announced . The threats to Americans health care of such a reckless move are clear, underscoring the urgency for our campaign to fight the theft of yet another Supreme Court seat.
More than five thousand PFAW members joined PFAW President Ben Jealous, PFAW Executive Vice President Marge Baker, and acclaimed actor and PFAW Foundation board member Kathleen Turner for the call.
To kick things off, Baker reminded those on the call that “we know how to honor [Justice Ginsburg’s] legacy,” which is to fight this battle as long as is necessary. Justice Ginsburg’s rulings often helped protect our health care rights, and we are committed to preventing the Republican Party from attacking them and dishonoring her memory.
Jealous laid out the issues and rights that are at risk if the Supreme Court tilts even further to the right with another Trump appointee on the bench: voting rights, reproductive rights, workers’ rights, LGBTQ rights, disability rights, and climate change, among so many others. “And yet for all of us,” Jealous noted, “the great equalizer is our health. And health care is squarely in the crosshairs” of this Supreme Court fight.
Turner shared a sense of urgency around women’s reproductive health and told a touching story of being at an event a number of years ago with Justice Ginsburg.
Nine months into the pandemic, nearly seven million Americans have contracted COVID-19, the long-term effects of which have created the newest preexisting condition insurance companies could deny coverage for if the Affordable Care Act (ACA) were overturned. And oral arguments in a case that will decide the fate of the ACA are scheduled to be held November 10 – just days after the elections.
Members raised this issue as well as many other during the question and answer section of the town hall.: Should individual activists’ reach out to their senators to urge them to oppose moving forward with a nominee? (Yes!) How can we get out the vote for the general election as widely as possible?
The discussion ended on an optimistic note. Jealous urged listeners not to despair over the future of our country. There is great change on the way, he said; we just need to work together to enact that change as quickly as possible. “We can have our rights, our protections,” Turner added, and “our needs met as women if we speak up, as [Justice Ginsburg] did.”
As we continue the fight against this sham process, we will continue to honor Justice Ginsburg’s legacy – that includes holding accountable every senator who votes to advance Trump’s Supreme Court nominee before a new president is sworn in.
Listen below for the full event: