Dozens of protesters gathered outside of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's Park Slope apartment on Saturday morning to demand he "use all the tools" to block President Donald Trump's nominee to the Supreme Court hours ahead of the president's anticipated announcement.
"I told myself on Friday that I was done going to protests for a while to focus on my work, and my text banking, and getting out the vote. And then we lost Ruth at the end of Rosh Hashanah dinner, and I was like, 'Fuck, we have to keep protesting,'" said Lisa Raymond-Tolan, who organized the action with Indivisible Nation BK, among a wave of groups formed after Trump was elected in 2016.
Amid chants of "Fight like hell!" "We're watching you Chuck, 2022!" on Prospect Park West in front of the senator's Brooklyn apartment, about four police officers stood watching the action, organized by Center for Popular Democracy Action, Indivisible Nation BK, and others. Activists wielded cardboard cut-outs of hardware tools, painted eyes, and a portrait of Ginsburg while demanding Schumer—who wields power as the minority leader— use procedural tools to slow down the nomination process—like insisting on quorums since many incumbents are on the campaign trail fighting to keep their seat on Capitol Hill—and committing to expanding the Supreme Court.
During a press conference last weekend, Schumer, alongside Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, urged Americans to call Republican senators to hold off on confirming a justice. He said the last-minute decision before an election is "despicable and wrong."
But it is unclear what delay tactics Schumer would support or commit to using. It was also unclear if Schumer was at his home.
Schumer's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment about how exactly he'll fight against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's plans to hold a vote on the Senate floor. Schumer has called this a "power grab."
In a statement shortly after Trump's official announcement, Schumer said he "will strongly oppose this nomination."
"Should Judge Amy Coney Barrett be confirmed, a far-right majority on the court could also turn back the clock on women’s rights and a woman’s right to choose, workers' rights, voting rights, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, environmental protections and more," he said. "The future for DACA recipients also hangs in the balance with this nominee."
The Intercept reported that a memo laying out what tools senators could use to keep Republicans from confirming Trump's nominee has been circulating. Among the options include objecting to routine unanimous consent agreements to require a vote for procedural motions like to adjourn or recess, making it so that senators would have to show up to D.C. for any votes, and a laundry list of process-related measures to slow down Republicans' attempt to confirm a justice.
"How are we supposed to survive a pandemic if we lose the ACA?" Vinay Krishnan, the national field organizer with the Center for Popular Democracy, said during the action.
He told Gothamist: "It would be shocking if they didn't overturn it if there's a conservative majority on the court."
A Supreme Court hearing regarding the landmark Obama administration healthcare policy is one week after the election.
"If people are losing the ACA in 2021, then even more people are going to die. This is literally a life and death fight for everyone in the country. Some people are not particularly inspired by Joe Biden, and I understand that, but people really need to understand the stakes,” Krishnan said, referring to the former Vice President and Democratic nominee.
A Park Slope high school English teacher, Erika Drezner, stood silently amid the chanting as a character from “The Handmaid's Tale,“ a dystopian novel and TV series, to call attention to how the open seat could impact women.
"I dressed as a handmaid today to demonstrate women's voicelessness and women's immobility," Drezner told Gothamist. "When we talk about Roe v. Wade, that's the most obvious decision that will fall, right? Women will not have access to reproductive health. But there are so many other ways—environmental injustice will hurt women. Corporate malfeasance will hurt women. Primarily women of color."
"It's going to be a travesty for RBG's legacy that she will maybe be replaced by another woman who opposes everything she fought for her entire life and will in fact harm women," she added.