In recent days, much of the news cycle has been around President Donald Trump’s replacement of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg after she passed. The president nominated Amy Coney Barrett on Sept. 26 — in a now dubbed “superspreader” event at the White House which has resulted in nearly 40 cases of COVID-19.
The superspreader event has put a small wrench in the plans for the swift confirmation of Coney Barrett, as two senators were diagnosed with COVID-19 shortly after the nomination. This may force the Senate to delay a vote.
However, COVID-19 may not push the nomination past the election. Even with two ill senators, Senate Republicans intend on pushing this nomination forward — even if they must do so by a virtual Senate hearing.
What’s at stake
The confirmation of Coney Barrett will likely be devastating. A conservative majority on the court could endanger the lives of millions. The conservative majority would likely repeal the Affordable Care Act, resulting in hundreds of thousands losing health insurance coverage. Pre-existing conditions coverage would also vanish.
Access to health care rights would also be at risk. Roe v. Wade would be likely to overturn, resulting in the legal access to abortion disappearing. Overturning Roe would be devastating. Attacks on civil rights, voting rights, environmental law and immigration laws would all also be likely to be on the table.
Cases like Griswold v. Connecticut, which resulted in the constitutional right to privacy, would also be at risk. The legal right to privacy is the cornerstone of marriage equality, a case that has been more under scrutiny.
On Monday, Supreme Court justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito penned a response to the case of Kim Davis, the former county clerk who famously defied a federal court order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples as seen in, Davis v. David Ermold, et al.
Here, Thomas and Alito argued that Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 Supreme Court decision which legalized same-sex marriage, should be overturned. The likely appointment of Coney Barrett makes these comments particularly worrying for LGBTQ people, as she has defended the dissenting opinions on the Obergefell decision.
AIDS United condemns any attempt to undermine the protections granted by the Obergefell decision. The decision not only gave LGBTQ people their constitutional right but also has important public health implications. A 2009 study found that areas with same-sex marriage bans experienced higher rates of HIV transmission, as codified intolerance forced people into high-risk behaviors. A reversal of the decision would be a setback in the fights for LGBTQ equity and ending the HIV epidemic.
Follow AIDS United as we continue to monitor this situation and provide updates as they become available.