Protect Our Court: Write a Letter to the Editor

With the loss of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, our country must fight to ensure a just successor takes her seat. AAUW believes that, as with all nominations, a full and fair vetting process is vital to determine the nominee’s qualifications and temperament. This is fundamentally impossible to achieve in a short time and in light of all the other critical issues the Senate has yet to address. Our nation is reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic, an economic crisis, reckoning with our long and painful history with racism, and how to access the vote in a critical election year. Our fundamental rights are at risk, now more than ever — and the American people need a Supreme Court of independent, fair-minded jurists to protect the rights of all.

This is where you come in.

Letters to the editor and op-eds in local community papers are an especially effective communications and advocacy tools.

Writing a letter to the editor (LTE) or an op-ed is a great way to educate and energize advocates, reach elected officials, and spread the word about important issues while calling for change. First, you will need to:

  1. Research the guidelines for your local paper.
  2. Find a local angle — has your paper covered the topic or published an LTE or op-ed yet?
  3. Assume nothing — do not assume readers know the details about the Supreme Court process or nominee, so be sure to include some concise background.
  4. Avoid sending the same letter to competing papers — select one to submit to and make sure your work is personalized.
  5. End with a call to action — demand that the Senate not hold hearings or a vote until after the inauguration.

To further assist in this call to action, below we have collected resources on writing, key talking points and two sample LTEs to inform your work. Use these media outreach tools to correct and clarify facts for the public, spur news editors to cover the issue and urge readers to support a full and fair vetting process for anyone being considered to join the Supreme Court.

Talking Points

  • The Supreme Court is the final arbiter of the law and charged with ensuring for every American “equal justice under law.” It is a lifetime appointment.
  • Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the second woman ever to serve as a Supreme Court justice. She dedicated her entire career, on and off the Court, to protecting rights for women and LGBTQ individuals, and advancing justice for millions of Americans.
  • We will accept nothing less than a principled, dignified defender of justice who will utilize their position on the bench to safeguard civil rights — for all.
  • There is no precedent for the speed with which this nominee is being rushed through the Supreme Court process. From 1986 to the present, the average time from a vacancy created to nomination is 65 days — and the average time from vacancy created to a hearing is 113 days.
  • Judge Barrett’s existing record shows that her views and philosophy are directly contrary to AAUW’s mission, including: undermining Title IX by making it more difficult for female students to battle sex discrimination in schools, curtailing reproductive freedoms and access to health care and weakening protections for workers.
  • Even though this was a job interview for a lifetime appointment, Judge Barrett refused to substantively answer most questions.
  • Judge Barrett has consistently failed to ensure that workers who have faced discrimination are protected. AAUW advocates for an equitable access and advancement in employment for all workers, free from systemic barriers and biases, including vigorous enforcement of employment discrimination statutes. Judge Barrett has routinely demonstrated a lack of commitment to protecting workers’ rights, including workers of color and older workers.
  • AAUW supports universal access to quality, affordable health care and comprehensive family planning services, including the expansion of patients’ rights under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Judge Barrett has criticized the ACA, making clear that she is not committed to protecting access to healthcare for women and those with preexisting conditions.
  • Judge Barrett’s opinions raise questions about the ability of educational institutions to protect students from sexual assault. AAUW advocates for the vigorous enforcement of Title IX and the ability for all students to access an education free from barriers and bias. Judge Barrett’s record indicates a greater concern for those who hinder the ability of others to learn, rather than for those who have been marginalized and denied equitable access to education.

What does an LTE look like?

Sample #1

Dear Editor:

The Senate Judiciary Committee’s plan to rush the confirmation hearings on Judge Amy Coney Barrett is an insult to American women and their families.

With so much at stake, it is critical for Judge Barrett to get a comprehensive and thorough vetting to allow us to assess whether she will be an independent voice and fierce, fair-minded advocate for all Americans.

Never before in our nation’s history has a Supreme Court appointment been considered in such a hurried way. Given that the election is already underway, with hundreds of thousands of ballots already cast, there simply is not enough time to hold the kind of thoughtful and deliberative hearings that we all deserve.

As a [member/officer] of the [city/state] branch of the American Association of University Women, I urge our elected leaders to honor the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s final wish that her replacement not be named until the next president takes office in January.

 

Sample #2

Dear Editor:

As a [member/leader] of the [city/state] branch of the American Association of University Women, [I/we] do hope to see a woman nominated to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court. Women are not interchangeable, however, and Judge Amy Coney Barrett is not the right person for this lifetime appointment.

Judge Barrett is on the wrong side of many of the issues that are central to AAUW’s mission of advancing gender equity. Her record of curtailing reproductive freedoms and access to health care, undermining Title IX by making it more difficult for female students to battle sex discrimination in schools, and weakening protections for workers does not bode well in ensuring that we have the jurist we need on the highest court in our land.

We urge our elected officials to oppose her confirmation, and instead select a nominee who, like Justice Ginsburg, can be an independent voice and fierce, fair-minded advocate for American women and their families.

Want to engage more?

To ensure you see updates on Supreme Court engagement opportunities first,
text “SAVEOURCOURT ” to 21333 to get AAUW action alerts via text.

Check out our full list of advocacy actions to fight for a just and fair Supreme Court.

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There are lots of ways to get involved with AAUW’s work to advance gender equity. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of women and girls.