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Rhode Islanders present confirmation-blocking ‘How To’ Guide for U.S. Senators

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What Trump and the Republicans are trying to do is nothing less than an anti-democratic seizure of our nation’s courts and laws for the next 30 to 40 years. In the face of a coup d’etat such as this, there can only be one democratically legitimate response, and that is to delay, to block, to fight back by any means necessary.“


Concerned Rhode Islanders gathered today outside the United States District Courthouse calling on Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse to use every tactic at their disposal to shut down the normal operations of the Senate and block President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett.

Using large placards and handouts, the speakers presented a list of Senate procedural tactics that would delay Senate business and make advancing Trump’s nominee extremely difficult for Republicans. The tactics, which have circulated throughout the Senate in recent days, make clear that Rhode Island’s Senate delegation has substantial power to obstruct the Supreme Court confirmation process. “Republicans have used these tactics again and again to block the will of the American people. We are calling on our leaders to use these tactics to stand up for that public will,” said former state representative Aaron Regunberg, one of the event organizers. “What Trump and the Republicans are trying to do is nothing less than an anti-democratic seizure of our nation’s courts and laws for the next 30 to 40 years. In the face of a coup d’etat such as this, there can only be one democratically legitimate response, and that is to delay, to block, to fight back by any means necessary.“

Attendees rallied at Burnside Park in Providence before making a short march to the courthouse steps. There, in front of Senator Jack Reed’s office, numerous speakers detailed how the installation of a decades-long right-wing majority on the Supreme Court could devastate their lives and the lives of their loved ones.

Mycala McKay, an organizer with Sunrise Providence, appealed to Senator Whitehouse’s commitment to fighting for a better planet in particular, saying, “A Trump Supreme Court appointment right now could block climate action for a lifetime, allowing fossil fuel corporations to continue to destroy our planet, our communities, and our lives.”

Tiara Mack, state senator-elect from Providence, focused on the threat to abortion access, saying that, “A conservative court, determined to push the American health system further into international shame and ridicule, will make United States hospitals one of the most dangerous places for Black maternal and infant health… We would see the overturning of Roe v Wade, the Affordable Care Act, and a host of other anti-human rights measures.”


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Sunrise Providence leader Susnna outlined the already devastating impacts a right-wing court could have on families of color like hers and implored Rhode Island’s senators to fulfill their responsibility to defend the most vulnerable, saying, “Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Senator Reed, it is part of your job to use the power we gave you to protect our communities and our democracy.”

“As it stands, we know that wealthy corporations have already infiltrated our legislative branch of government – from Congress to our state government,” said State Representative-elect David Morales. “We can not allow this to continue with a Supreme Court that will further empower the wealthiest one percent.”

All speakers were united in their call for Senators Reed and Whitehouse to be national leaders in using procedural delay and obstruction to prevent a third Trump nominee to the Supreme Court. They presented a range of tactics for delaying Senate business, including repeatedly raising points of order, repeatedly moving to adjourn or recess, and forcing recorded votes that would require Senators to come to the Capitol in person. In the hands of a united Democratic caucus in the Senate—with the leadership and full participation of Senators Reed and Whitehouse—these tactics could grind the business of the Senate to a standstill, and possibly prevent confirmation of Trump’s Supreme Court nominee before the Inauguration of the next President.

As one speaker, state representative Democratic Primary winner Brandon Potter shared, “We’re calling on our Senators to stand-up and fight fire with fire. The same way that Senator Ted Cruz was once willing to read Dr. Seuss on the Senate floor for over 20 hours in an attempt to stop the Senate from passing the Affordable Care Act, we’re asking our Senators to use every procedural option available to stall the Senate from conducting this confirmation process. Because this isn’t a nursery book story. This is real life for real people.”

[From a press release]