Minnesota U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith joined their Democratic colleagues Monday in casting votes against Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald Trump's nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that the Senate should not confirm a lifetime appointment to the high court on the eve of a presidential election.
"The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice," Klobuchar said Sunday as Senate Democrats began a marathon of speeches in opposition to the nomination.
The final Senate vote confirming Barrett came eight days before the November election in which Republicans are campaigning to hold both the White House and the Senate. The battle for the Senate includes a Minnesota matchup between Smith and former GOP U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis, who supports Barrett's nomination.
In a statement Monday, Lewis' spokeswoman Christine Snell called Barrett "a superb jurist who will interpret the Constitution as it is written and not what she wishes it to be."
Smith, in a floor speech last week opposing Barrett's nomination, cited her own history as the only senator who worked at Planned Parenthood, which provides women's health services, including birth control and abortion.
"Health care decisions are the most personal," Smith said. "It's your body, your life. And decisions about reproductive health and sexual health are even more personal and intensely private."
Klobuchar and Smith each praised the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and stressed that Barrett's judicial philosophies could endanger women's abortion rights and the Obama-era Affordable Care Act, which the Trump administration is challenging before the Supreme Court.
"You can't take away the fact that this nomination was plopped down in the middle of an election," Klobuchar said. "This will not be a cry of defeat for the people of this country that care about Justice Ginsburg's legacy, her legacy of protecting women's rights, her legacy on voting rights, her legacy on so many other fundamental issues."
Klobuchar, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee that vetted Barrett, noted that the Supreme Court can ultimately review issues like same-sex marriage, contraception and the landmark Roe v. Wade decision protecting abortion rights.
Smith also pushed back against Republican senators' assertions that Barrett's rulings can be forecast in advance. "Some of my colleagues have suggested that it is 'fear mongering' to talk about Barrett voting to overturn Roe," Smith tweeted on Friday. "Please. Forgive me for not ignoring the repeated promises to only appoint anti-choice judges. We can all see right through the gaslighting."
Lewis has supported the GOP's push to confirm Barrett before the presidential election, arguing that a full court could be needed to resolve legal issues that might arise. "It's not beyond the pale to consider a contested presidential election," Lewis said last month.
Republicans used their majority to confirm Barrett on Monday, cementing a conservative majority on the Supreme Court that could last for decades.
Klobuchar predicted Barrett's confirmation will have consequences at the polls on Nov. 3. "We are not doing what we should be doing, and people are watching," she said.