Barrett Backers Will Pay a Price with Voters for Elevating a Climate Denier to the Supreme Court
Washington, D.C. — Tonight, Senate Republicans elevated Justice Amy Coney Barrett, a climate and science denier, to the Supreme Court even as the United States is ravaged by climate disasters, from supercharged hurricanes to wildfires and other extreme weather events.
Tonight’s 52 to 48 vote is the first time in more than 150 years that a Supreme Court nominee was confirmed solely with the support of one party.
Senate Republicans’ decision to support an illegitimate Supreme Court nominee who won’t even acknowledge well-established science shows a clear disregard for the health, safety, and economic futures of constituents. After standing by Trump’s side as the administration fueled the climate crisis, Senate Republicans have now further cemented a legacy of putting polluters ahead of people and failing to protect their constituents and our country from the existential threat of the climate crisis.
While polls have shown little to no evidence that Barrett is energizing Republican voters, voting for a climate denier could be politically harmful to a number of Republican senators running for re-election in tight races this November, including Sens. Thom Tillis (R-NC), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Voters in these states strongly believe in the climate crisis and the majority want to see Congress do more to address the crisis.
“While Republican Senators denied Americans a voice about the future of the Supreme Court, climate voters are heading to the polls to make themselves heard loud and clear,” said Climate Power 2020 Executive Director Lori Lodes. “The rush to confirm Barrett, even after early voting started for the 2020 presidential election, shows just how eager Senate Republicans are to impose Donald Trump’s anti-environmental agenda on the courts. Instead of focusing on COVID relief and listening to experts, this sham, illegitimate process was marked by an utter disregard for public health and safety. Whether it’s on COVID or climate change, voters have had enough of science denial and will hold Senators accountable at the ballot box.”
During her confirmation hearings, Barrett offered a series of disqualifying responses to questions about climate change. She called climate change a “contentious matter” despite universal-acknowledgment from scientists and experts that human action is fueling the crisis. “I’m not a scientist” and similar refrains echoed by Barrett are long-used diversion tactics employed by Republicans to dodge questions on climate change and their anti-science records.
Last week, in her written responses to Questions for the Record, Barrett quadrupled down on her climate denial, refusing once again to answer questions about climate change and other key environmental issues, including the landmark 5-4 Massachusetts v. EPA climate decision, the Waters of the United States Rule, auto emissions, coal emissions, and the National Climate Assessment. She again responded that climate change is a “political controversy,” adding her views are “not relevant to my job as a judge.”
In addition to her outright climate denial and refusal to answer important questions on key climate and environmental issues, Barrett also refused to commit to recusing herself from cases involving Shell Oil and the American Petroleum Institute, where her father has served in leadership roles for decades.
The courts have been the strongest line of defense against four years of rampant environmental deregulation by the Trump administration. Attempts to roll back environmental and health safeguards have been defeated or abandoned 69 out of 83 times after the cases were taken to the courts. Now, Barrett’s confirmation will leave millions of Americans vulnerable to losing the right to clean air and water.