More than 800 Alabama women cosigned a letter this week, denouncing Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey’s support of what they called the “rushed and undemocratic” confirmation process of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court. Ivey, along with two other women Republican governors, had written a public letter in support of Barrett earlier this month.
The Alabama women’s grassroots letter campaign began last week with one woman, Emily Levine, a charity volunteer and married mother of two daughters who lives in the Birmingham area.
“I wasn’t anticipating anything was going to change, but I was bothered by the letter the governors had written,” she said.
Levine, who describes herself as politically progressive, had been dismayed that the appointment process for Barrett was moving forward now, rather than being put on hold until after the presidential election. Barrett was nominated in late September by President Donald Trump to fill the seat left by late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Barrett, who is expected to cement the court’s conservative majority, was sworn in as a Supreme Court Justice on Monday night.
“I didn’t think my voice by itself was very powerful,” she told Reckon. “But a letter signed by a lot of women in the state holds more power and shows that we feel like you are supposed to be a governor to everyone in the state and we feel like you’re not listening.”
Last Tuesday, Levine read the Republican governors’ open letter supporting Barrett’s appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court, written by Ivey, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds.
One line of the governors’ letter stuck out to her: “Many progressives, it seems, claim to believe in the power of women, but only for women who think and talk like they do.”
“Reading their letter really made me feel, as a woman who lives in a state represented by our governor, it bothered me that she spoke of half the women in our state that way,” said Levine.
She’d recently listened to a podcast where one of the guests said that women’s networks are their superpowers.
“I felt like it was talking about your friends you see picking up their kids at school, and your friends you talk with and have coffee with – that’s where we as women can have so much of an impact.”
Levine, who has been active in Democratic political campaigns in the past, said she was waiting for someone in the state to write a letter or make a statement, but she didn’t see one.
Finally, on Friday, she decided to write a letter herself. The confirmation at that point was nearly a foregone conclusion, with more than enough Republican votes in the Senate to confirm Barrett. The letter, she said, was more of a protest against the process used to confirm Barrett and the language used to describe Democratic and progressive women.
She wrote her letter, and had a few friends edit and make suggestions. She asked her husband to help set it up as a Google Doc that could be signed by anyone who had the link.
At 11 p.m. Friday night, she said, she hit send, emailing it to her friend list and asking for signatures from Alabama women, along with their zip codes.
By the following evening, the letter had 500 signatures as her friends forwarded it to others. As of Tuesday afternoon, it had more than 800. Most of the signers are likely progressive-leaning, she said, though there are others who identify as moderate or conservative. The zip codes come from around the state.
Levine said she emailed the letter to Ivey’s chief of staff and plans to mail a hard copy, along with the signatures, this week. Levine said she has not received a response from the governor, but does not expect one.
“I was not thinking that (the letter) was going to impact the confirmation, not expecting Gov. Ivey to stop the presses,” Levine said. “To me, the positive response would be a future of feeling listened to on the issues that divide the state and the country and the people. To just feel like we have a voice.
“I think it’s a reminder that no matter your perspective, there are a lot of people who feel as you do.”
Here is the text of Levine’s letter, or click here:
Dear Governor Ivey,
We are a group of women. We are current and future mothers, grandmothers, caregivers, leaders and champions of all citizens of our great state. We are moderates, progressives and conservatives. When we agree with our leaders, we say so, as we have in your support for education, workforce development, and sensible mask policies.
We also speak up when we do not agree. Thus, we want to respond to your letter in support of Amy Coney Barrett because it does not represent our views.
Like you and Judge Barrett’s father, we want to tell all young girls that they can do anything their male counterparts can do and they can be anything and everything they want to be. We want it to be a truth, not just a signal “that the most qualified individual will get the job”. In addition to those things, we want them to know and believe that the process will be fair, because no matter the job, the process should be fair. And our children and young people (boys or girls) should be able to trust that democracy works and can be counted on. How can we assure them when this process has been so rushed and undemocratic?
We are women who oppose Judge Barrett’s confirmation, because confirming her at this time, when 50 million Americans have already cast their votes, is anti-democratic. Regardless of what ways she does or does not think or talk like us, what matters is that a confirmation should not take place after the election is underway.
We do not expect you to rescind your support of Judge Barrett. However, we urge you and the other women leaders who have advanced to top positions in our government to stand with us in asking for a fair process that takes place after the election. A process that helps us to believe that our voices and our votes matter because the American people should have the right to choose who nominates the next Supreme Court Justice.