Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York said Sunday that right-wing U.S. Supreme Court justices who “misled” senators during their respective confirmation hearings about whether they supported overturning Roe v. Wade should be impeached for lying under oath.
During an appearance on NBC‘s “Meet the Press,” Ocasio-Cortez told host Chuck Todd that the high court’s reactionary majority “dramatically overreached its authority” when it struck down the 1973 legal precedent on Friday, imperiling access to abortion care throughout the U.S.
“If we allow Supreme Court nominees to lie under oath and secure lifetime appointments to the highest court of the land and then issue—without basis, if you read these opinions—rulings that deeply undermine the human civil rights of the majority of Americans, we must see that through,” the progressive lawmaker said when asked if the House Judiciary Committee should launch an investigation.
“There must be consequences for such a deeply destabilizing action and the hostile takeover of our democratic institutions,” said Ocasio-Cortez.
“What makes it particularly dangerous is that it sends a blaring signal to all future nominees that they can now lie to duly elected members of the United States Senate in order to secure Supreme Court confirmations,” she added.
Former President Donald Trump—who received nearly three million fewer votes than 2016 Democratic Party presidential nominee Hillary Clinton—appointed three far-right justices to lifetime positions on the Supreme Court during his one term: Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett. The trio joined ideological allies Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas in overturning Roe.
In 2017, Senate Republicans bypassed Democrats’ opposition to Gorsuch by lowering the threshold for advancing high court nominations from 60 votes to a simple majority—a rule change that also benefited Kavanaugh in 2018 and Barrett in 2020.
Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine had a chance to deny Gorsuch and Kavanaugh their seats on the Supreme Court. Despite the wishes of the majority of her constituents and warnings that the confirmation of more right-wing judicial nominees would spell the likely end of Roe, Collins voted to support both men—claiming that they had assured her of their respect for long-standing legal precedent.
After Collins said last month that Gorsuch and Kavanaugh’s support for Alito’s draft ruling was “completely inconsistent” with what they told her in private meetings and confirmation hearings—a charge that she repeated in the wake of Friday’s 6-3 judgment—Mainers for Responsible Leadership told Common Dreams that it “looks like it’s time for her to call for impeachment” of the two justices.
Corporate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), who also voted to confirm both justices, said Friday in a statement: “I trusted Justice Gorsuch and Justice Kavanagh when they testified under oath that they also believed Roe v. Wade was settled legal precedent and I am alarmed they chose to reject the stability the ruling has provided two generations of Americans.”
“I believe lying under oath is an impeachable offense,” Ocasio-Cortez said Sunday. “This is something that should be very seriously considered, including by senators like Joe Manchin and Susan Collins.”
“I believe that violating federal law in not disclosing income from political organizations, as Clarence Thomas did years ago, is also potentially an impeachable offense,” the New York Democrat continued, an apparent reference to the justice’s failure to disclose his wife Ginni Thomas’ previous employment at the Heritage Foundation and Hillsdale College.
A petition calling for the impeachment of Clarence Thomas—the only justice to vote against the release of White House records to the House panel investigating the January 6 insurrection—has garnered more than 230,000 signatures since the emergence of new information detailing Ginni Thomas’ direct participation in Trump’s failed coup.
Ocasio-Cortez also argued that “not recusing from cases that one clearly has family members involved in with very deep violations of conflict of interest are also impeachable offenses,” an apparent reference to Barrett’s refusal to sit out a climate case that involved Shell Oil, her father’s ex-employer.
Trump was able to nominate Gorsuch because then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) refused to even allow a hearing on Merrick Garland after the current attorney general was nominated by then-President Barack Obama to fill the vacancy left by the death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia on February 13, 2016.
Trump nominated Barrett following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on September 18, 2020. Even though McConnell claimed that seating Garland would be inappropriate when Obama was “on his way out the door,” he rushed through Barrett’s confirmation after millions of mail-in ballots had already been cast in the election that President Joe Biden eventually won.
Ocasio-Cortez stressed Sunday that the high court’s assault on hard-won rights is a “crisis of democracy” and a “crisis of legitimacy” that Biden must address.
Despite the recent spate of decisions by the Supreme Court’s deeply unpopular right-wing majority to end the constitutional right to abortion care, weaken gun restrictions, undermine the separation of church and state, and erode Miranda rights—with more attacks on equality and federal regulatory power expected—the White House on Saturday reiterated the president’s opposition to rebalancing the court by adding seats.