Senator Ed Markey (D., Mass.) slammed judicial originalism in a Senate floor speech hours before the expected confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court on Monday.
Originalism is a mode of legal interpretation by which a judge considers a legal document’s original meaning at the time the document was written. Conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, for whom Judge Barrett clerked in the late 1990’s, was considered one of the foremost exponents of this judicial philosophy.
Democrats have vociferously opposed Barrett’s confirmation to the Court, which would give conservatives a 6-3 majority on the bench. Senator Markey on Monday criticized Barrett’s adherence to Scalia’s originalism.
“Originalism is racist. Originalism is sexist. Originalism is homophobic. Originalism is just a fancy word for discrimination,” Markey said on the Senate floor, in a line he later posted on Twitter. Markey added in his floor speech, “For originalists, LGBT stands for ‘let’s go back in time.'”
In additional tweets, Markey also called for Democrats to “abolish the filibuster” and to “expand the Supreme Court,” i.e. expand the number of justices appointed to the bench.
Throughout Barrett’s confirmation hearings, Democrats portrayed her looming confirmation as threatening abortion rights as well as the viability of the Affordable Care Act. Markey returned to these points in his floor speech.
“We can have the ACA or we can have the ACB, but we can’t have both,” Markey said.
Senator Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) mocked those concerns as unfounded during the opening hearings for Barrettt.
“Democrats and their allies shouldn’t claim to know how any judge would rule in any particular case,” Grassley said earlier this month, noting that Justices John Paul, Anthony Kennedy, and David Souter were criticized for alleged sexism. “Ultimately, the Left praised these justices that they [previously] attacked.”