By CAROLINE BECK, Alabama Daily News
Alabama U.S. Sen. Doug Jones said on Friday that he would not be voting to confirm any Supreme Court justice nominee before the Nov. 3 election, saying Senate Republicans’ rush for confirmation will “subvert the will of the people.”
“We should not force the country into a brutal and divisive partisan confirmation fight while Americans are already voting to choose the next president,” Jones said during a Facebook live event.
The top concerns Jones noted for a Supreme Court conservative majority were not abortion rights gun control, but protection of the Affordable Care Act and whether President Donald Trump disputes the results of the Nov. 3 election.
“It’s about getting a more friendly Supreme Court in the event that this president loses this election and claims it was because of fraud and other irregularities,” Jones said.
Trump announced on Saturday Judge Amy Coney Barrett, an U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit judge, as his nominee pick.
If Barrett is confirmed, which is all but certain in the Republican-controlled Senate, it would create a dramatic shift in the court’s makeup and affirming a conservative majority in the court.
Jones said his vote is ultimately “inconsequential” but plans to keep speaking out against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s choice to rush the vote and won’t be part of the Kentucky Republican’s “political power grab.”
“I will not be a party to the further erosion of the institution of the Senate and I will not be a party to denying the people a voice in this process to the election of the next president of the United States in just under 40 more days,” Jones said.
Jones said he would give any nominee a careful and fair hearing but only after the general election is over.
Jones also pointed to McConnell’s past statements and refusal in 2016 to consider any of President Barrack Obama’s nominees in 2016 after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
“If confirming a Supreme Court justice ten months prior to a presidential election would have denied the American people a voice, then isn’t he now denying the American people a voice by rushing to confirm a justice just weeks before a presidential election?” Jones said.
Jones received backlash from conservative groups like the National Republican Senatorial Committee and anti-abortion groups such as the Susan B. Anthony List for his announcement.
“Senator Doug Jones betrayed Alabamians when he voted against Justice Kavanaugh and has betrayed them again today, before President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee has even been named,” SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said in a statement Friday afternoon.
Jones is facing a hard reelection race against former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville in November who has said he supports Trump’s choice in Barrett.
“She understands that it’s her job to interpret the constitution as is written, and not to manufacture new law from the bench,” Tuberville said on Twitter. “Her nomination opens the door to protecting unborn life, preserving our second amendment gun rights and securing the religious freedom’s guaranteed to us by the constitution.”
Jones said he did not support the idea of expanding the Supreme Court, saying that it will create a dangerous cycle of retaliation in Congress.
“That’s just not my style and I believe it ultimately hurts people more and hurts the intuitions of our government more if we act in that fashion,” Jones said.
The Senate is expected to hold a confirmation hearing in two weeks and a full chamber vote before election day, the Associated Press reports.