ELECTION 2020

Joni Ernst decries partisan 'smears' against Judge Amy Coney Barrett

Iowa 1st Congressional District candidate state Rep. Ashley Hinson of  Marion (left), U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst (center) and
Iowa 1st Congressional District candidate state Rep. Ashley Hinson of Marion (left), U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst (center) and state Sen. Dan Zumbach of Ryan discuss derecho damage with rural Cedar Rapids maple syrup producer Cindy Golding during a Fighting For Iowa campaign stop Friday at Sweet Maple Farms. (James Q. Lynch/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Warnings that confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett will spell the end of Obamacare and legal abortion are “smears” by partisans wishing a Democratic president and Senate could fill the Supreme Court vacancy with a more liberal justice, according to Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa.

Ernst, who observed derecho damage at a Cedar Rapids farm Friday afternoon, rejected suggestions by Democrats that the confirmation process should be delayed until after the Nov. 3 election.

Progress Iowa, a liberal advocacy group, released a poll of 741 likely Iowa voters showing that 51 percent agreed that whoever wins the election should nominate a successor to the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

“Well, I would say that we have a vacancy on the Supreme Court, it needs to be filled, so we will go ahead and do that,” Ernst told reporters.

In confirmation hearings and in her rulings on the 7th Circuit Court, Barrett has shown that she can set aside personal beliefs when she enter the courtroom, said Ernst, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“She applies that law fairly,” Ernst said, noting that Barrett has sided with the court’s majority in 95 percent of the cases, including many unanimous decisions.

The Supreme Court is set to hear a case involving the Affordable Care Act the week after the election. Democrats, including Ernst’s challenger, Democrat Theresa Greenfield, say Barrett’s criticism of previous rulings on the law suggest she would rule against it.

“When it comes to the Supreme Court nomination process, Sen. Ernst is desperate to distract from the fact that there’s an ongoing anti-ACA lawsuit, meaning the future of protections for coverage for preexisting conditions and Medicaid expansion is on the line,” said Greenfield spokesman Sam Newtown.

Even if the ACA is struck down, which Ernst didn’t concede, she thinks Congress would take action to protect priorities including preexisting conditions.

“We know that we have to protect preexisting conditions. I have never heard anybody argue that we shouldn’t,” she said. “So that’s a bunch of false smears that are out there.”

Democrats also exaggerate the likelihood of Barrett being part of a Supreme Court majority that would overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.

“There is 50 years of precedent behind Roe v. Wade, so the likelihood of it being overturned is minimal,” Ernst said. The nominee, she said, has ruled in favor of an abortion clinic in a case involving a buffer zone for protesters around the clinic.

Democrats are trying to paint Barrett as a judicial activist, Ernst said.

“I think that she has shown just a judicial temperament that is extraordinary,” Ernst said. “We’re looking for someone who will follow the Constitution. Just follow the law, and she can do that.”

Later, Ernst attended the Jones County Republican fall dinner.

Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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