Washington, D.C.— Forty pro-democracy and civil rights groups today joined in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, urging them to halt the process of federal judicial nominations and confirmations at this time.  The groups are members of the Fair Courts Task Force of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and wrote to urge “a cessation of the consideration of lifetime judicial nominees at a time when a continued focus on support and resources to address the COVID-19 pandemic should be paramount.” 

“The United States is in the midst of the worst public health and economic crisis our nation has faced in at least 100 years. COVID-19 is wreaking havoc throughout society, laying siege to our lives, our health, our economic well-being, our schools, our justice system, our security, and our democracy,” the letter states.  “Prioritizing judicial nominations as if there were no pandemic and ignoring the business that is most urgent for relief and recovery would be irresponsible. Therefore, the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the Senate as a whole, must take the necessary and commonsense action of putting the processing of judicial nominations on hold until the devastating impact of the pandemic has been diminished.”

“Every minute senators spend on judicial nominations is a minute not spent on solving the coronavirus crisis,” said Marge Baker, executive vice president for policy and program at People For the American Way. “The American people absolutely do not want their elected representatives focusing on judges right now. People are losing jobs, and health care, and homes. They are getting sick and seeing loved ones get sick, and even die. It wouldn’t just be tone deaf for Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham to prioritize judges at this moment; it would be immoral.”   

“The United States is facing unprecedented challenges stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic that are profoundly affecting every aspect of Americans’ lives – and they will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. These challenges are acutely felt by Black people and other members of communities of color, whose health, lives, welfare, and economic security have been vastly disproportionately impacted by this crisis,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF). “The United States Senate must prioritize advancing legislative solutions that provide relief and support for Americans during this pandemic. Allocating Senate time and resources to judicial nominations right now is not only imprudent and callous – it directly places lives at risk, especially those of individuals who are most marginalized in our society.”

“Nothing should take priority over responding to a pandemic that has taken tens of thousands of lives and devastated our economy. Nevertheless, Mitch McConnell and his fellow Senate Republicans are outrageously putting the safety of their colleagues, Senate staff, and the public at risk to continue their singular mission of packing our courts with Trump’s judges. This isn’t the first time McConnell has tried to put his political agenda above the needs of the American people, and it must stop now,” said Nan Aron, president of Alliance for Justice. 

“Mitch McConnell’s personal mission is to leave no judicial vacancy behind, giving lifetime positions to extremist judges who will shape our courts for decades to come. But, right now, there’s a global health and employment crisis – not a vacancy crisis in our courts. People are struggling to make rent, struggling to put food on the table, and struggling to survive. And now, when McConnell is faced with the opportunity to provide aid to millions of desperate families, he is instead insisting the Senate shift its critical focus to confirming judges. Enough is enough. Our leaders must prioritize protecting people across the country who desperately need jobs and lifesaving health care,” said President and CEO of National Women’s Law Center Fatima Goss Graves.

“Trump and McConnell are prioritizing their morally bankrupt agenda instead of addressing the impact of this public health crisis,” said Vanita Gupta, president and CEO at The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “Trump has carelessly botched the administration’s response to this devastating pandemic, even as the economic security of millions hangs in the balance. Meanwhile, McConnell is moving in lock-step, continuing to push judicial nominees whose records demonstrate dangerous hostility to health care access. Their inability to meet the real needs of the people—especially vulnerable communities—is a disaster. It is dangerous and irresponsible for the Senate to continue to dedicate time to judicial nominees.”

“The Senate’s move to advance Trump’s judicial nominations in the middle of a deadly pandemic will go down in history as an indefensible dereliction of duty,” said Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP.  “The Black community is bearing the brunt of this crisis. We represent one-third of the infections and one-third of the fatalities but only 13 percent of the population. We need the Senate to focus its complete and undivided attention on saving our lives and our livelihoods. We don’t need any more Trump judges confirmed.” 

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Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization. LDF has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.

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