Southern Illinois woman arrested during Kavanaugh Senate confirmation hearing

MARION, IL  — A southern Illinois woman has been arrested twice in Washington, D.C. She was there to protest Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s Senate confirmation hearing. She was among dozens of protesters arrested.

Elizabeth Malone has epilepsy, which is considered a pre-existing condition by insurance companies. She worries she could lose access to health care if provisions of the Affordable Health Care Act are stripped away. Right now she is in a wheelchair, but she said she wasn’t going to let that stop her from getting her voice heard.

Malone was physically removed from the hearing.  “My point was to be heard by the American people and to let everyone know the issue with preexisting conditions,” said Malone.

 

Before the Affordable Care Act, she sometimes struggled to find health care because of her epilepsy. She said she’s not giving her health care up without a fight. For a woman who has never even had a traffic ticket, getting arrested was a big deal.

“When they put those zip tie cuffs on my arms, I was shaking. I had tears streaming down my eyes,” said Malone.

But she said she is proud to have done it.

“I don’t want anyone to think that I wanted to be arrested, or that it’s a badge of honor or anything like that. But I am proud to represent the 130 million-plus people who would lose their health care should this man get confirmed,” said Malone.

We asked John Jackson from SIU Paul Simon Public Policy Institute several questions about his thoughts on Kavanaugh’s hearing. You can read those question and answers below.

What are your thoughts on Mr. Kavanaugh’s hearing so far?

This is political theater, and because of the deeply divided and polarized country we have become, it has become the norm for these kinds of Senate hearing now.  The Republicans did it to all of President Obama’s nominees, and remember that (Senate Majority Leader) Mitch McConnell, contrary to all precedent, refused to even consider Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, in order to preserve this seat for a Republican President. The Democrats consider this payback. And, more importantly, the interest groups, and people who are intense about their support for various causes they fear are imperiled by the GOP getting now a clear conservative majority on the court, demand that the Democrats try to stop this vote, although I don’t think there is much chance they will be successful.

What do you think about the protest that have been breaking out during the hearing? Is this normal for a senate confirmation hearing?

It used to not to be normal or a part of the customs of the Congress, and especially the U. S. Senate.  Because of the polarization of the country now, though, it has become the new normal, and just as importantly virtually demanded by opposition interest groups. 

If Kavanaugh is confirmed do you believe the Affordable Care Act will be the first thing to go?

President Trump has done quite a lot to undermine the ACA already by Executive Order and by issuing new regulations.  The key provision left in place by a 5:4 Supreme Court decision earlier is that the funding mechanism for the individual mandate should be regarded as a tax, which Congress clearly has the right to levy. The individual mandate, requiring people to have health insurance is key to funding the preexisting conditions mandate of the law, which is one of its most popular and crucial provisions.  Without it, that whole edifice will fall, and the insurance companies will simply refuse to cover people with preexisting conditions, as they did routinely before the ACA. Chief Justice John Roberts joined the four Democrats on the court in a startling upset for the conservative bloc when the upheld this provision.  That decision will certainly be in jeopardy now. 

Do you think there is a possibility of a different outcome? Or do you think he will be confirmed without any issues?

I think he almost certainly will be confirmed with a majority of all the 51 Republicans. If they lose one Senator, e. g. Flake,  they still have V. P. Pence.    I think there have been a lot of issues.  

How long are the hearings supposed to continue?

As long as Mitch McConnell allows. He has said they will have this all finished and the new Justice in place by 1 October. No reason to doubt him. He’s already gone to extraordinary lengths to get this vote, and I don’t think anything can stop him now.   

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