U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) on Thursday during a discussion with LGBTQ constituents said LGBTQ rights are “very much up for grabs” if Judge Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court, but he dodged questions on judicial reforms.
Several of those who attended asked repeatedly whether he would support reforms like adding seats in the Supreme Court or instituting term limits on justices but Warner wouldn’t commit to either measure.
“It’s going to take me some convincing, so I want to acknowledge that, but I think the idea of a broad-based, bipartisan look at the system probably makes some sense,” he said when a participant asked about term limits for justices.
Nelly Decker, Warner’s press secretary, said the senator welcomes his constituents to share their thoughts on judicial reform.
“He will continue listening to different viewpoints concerning this debate and understands that Virginians have strong feelings on the issue,” she said in an emailed statement. “This is particularly true as we witness unprecedented hypocrisy from President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in their rush to fill Justice Ginsburg’s seat as millions of Americans across the country have already cast their ballots during early voting.”
Warner was joined by Virginia state Del. Danica Roem (D-Manassas), the first openly transgender person elected to a state legislature in the country, and members of the Virginia General Assembly’s Rainbow Caucus for the virtual conversation.
The senator also spoke about the stakes for trans citizens. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a case concerning the Affordable Care Act on Nov. 4, one day after the election.
“[Under the Affordable Care Act] gender reassignment surgeries are protected, and essential health care benefits are protected. All that is subject to being thrown out,” said Warner. “The ACA has been the only law that protects against that kind of discrimination, not just in terms of LGBTQ issues but a whole host of nondiscrimination issues. If it gets thrown out those protections will go with it.”
One participant, Linh Hoang, said he was worried that with Barrett on the Supreme Court, they might reverse the Hodges v. Obergefell decision which legalized same-sex marriage across the U.S. in 2015.
Warner acknowledged that there is very little Senate Democrats can do to stop Barrett’s confirmation because the Republicans hold the majority. He said the focus should instead be on voting Democrats into the Senate and the White House.
“I particularly urge people to vote early in Virginia because in these last 12 days we’re going to see foreign actors try to intervene in our elections and put up disinformation,” said Warner.