FARGO — Two women with backgrounds in health care traveled from Valley City to join college students and families in Fargo on Friday, Sept. 25, in calling on Sen. John Hoeven to not vote on a new U.S. Supreme Court nominee until after the presidential inauguration in January.
The crowd of about two dozen outside Hoeven’s office at 123 Broadway was greeted with waves and honks of support and a few spirited conversations from people driving and walking by. A similar event was held in Bismarck.
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Amy Jacobson, board chair of the North Dakota Women’s Network, which put on the event, said the "No SCOTUS Vote until Inauguration" rally was intended to honor the legacy and last wish of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Sept. 18.
She delivered a letter to Hoeven’s office, asking him to stand by his “word” and not support a Supreme Court nominee in the final year of a president’s term.
“There is 80 years of precedent for not nominating and confirming a new justice of the Supreme Court in the final year of a president’s term so that people can have a say in this very important decision," the letter quoted Hoeven as saying in March 2016.
“We're just hoping that he listens to the voters of North Dakota and to the people whose lives are at stake, if he doesn't follow his personal precedent,” Jacobson said.
Sen. Hoeven’s office issued a statement in response to the rally and request.
It said, in part, that Democrats and Republicans have historically approached an election year vacancy on the Supreme Court in the same way.
“When the Presidency and the Senate are controlled by the same party, the precedent has been for the President’s nominee to get a vote on confirmation. That is the case in this election year and we should go forward accordingly,” the statement read.
Jacobson was not impressed by the response.
“So he’s saying it’s about politics, not people,” she said.
Sharon Buhr, a health board chair at the Barnes County Public Health unit, and Dr. Madeline Luke, a semi-retired internal medicine physician, who drove from Valley City to the rally, said it wasn’t their first choice of activity on a beautiful fall day.
“But if it’s not going to be us, who will do it?” Luke said.
President Trump is expected to nominate conservative federal appeals court judge Amy Coney Barrett on Saturday to fill the Supreme Court vacancy.
Avalon Fyreheart, of Fargo, said Republican Senators and the President should wait.
“If you get reelected, you get reelected and you can put your person in. If you don’t, oh well. Somebody else gets to put theirs in. It’s only fair,” he said.
Natasha Rosario, a Women and Gender Studies student at North Dakota State University, said she doesn’t think Barret is a good choice.
“A lot of her views don’t support women ... don't support people's rights in the way that I believe they should be supported. So that really worries me,” Rosario said.
Jacobson said there is a lot at stake in the coming years before the U.S. Supreme Court, including access to health care, reproductive rights and rights for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
“There are lives on the line,” she said.
Other partners in the rally included Planned Parenthood Minnesota, South Dakota Action Fund, Prairie Action ND and the Women In Need Abortion (WIN) Fund.