#RuthSentUs: Red Cloak National Protest Against Amy Coney Barrett Confirmation

#RuthSentUs: Red Cloak National Protest Against Amy Coney Barrett Confirmation
On Sunday, Oct. 25, activists walked silently in black and red robes in over 100 cities and towns across the nation to protest the confirmation of Barrett to the Supreme Court. (Jessie Steigerwald)

“It is my most fervent wish that I not be replaced until a new president is installed.” These were the last words of the late Associate Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Despite her wish, Republican Senators are breaking all the rules to rush through confirmation of Trump’s Supreme Court nomination of Amy Coney Barrett—the polar opposite of the women’s rights icon RBG.

On Sunday, Oct. 25, activists walked silently in black and red robes in over 100 cities and towns across the nation to protest the confirmation of Barrett to the Supreme Court.

Those in black robes with white laced collars dressed as Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Those in red robes with white bonnets were dressed as handmaids from Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel and series “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

#RuthSentUs: Red Cloak National Protest Against Amy Coney Barrett Confirmation
(Jessie Steigerwald)

They protested as handmaidens to object to the actions of Trump and Senate Republicans to rollback women’s rights through their anti-abortion, anti-contraception, anti-woman policies and court appointments.

“You might have someone walk up who’s been a victim of sexual assault. You might have someone who’s had an abortion. You might have someone walk up who’s simply been fighting for equal pay,” said Jessie Steigerwald, founding member of the Boston Red Cloaks and lead organizer of the protest in that city. “Just seeing the outfit … suddenly they feel understood. They feel seen. They feel heard.”


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From Boston to Miami, Los Angeles to Minneapolis, protesters organized silent, solemn and powerful processions, heads bowed, along city streets and in front of state capitols.

#RuthSentUs: Red Cloak National Protest Against Amy Coney Barrett Confirmation
With Barrett, the Supreme Court is likely to accelerate the erosion of Roe v. Wade or may even overturn the decision and end federal protection for abortion rights. (Jessie Steigerwald)

In Boston, the statute of liberty joined the procession, and some suffragists. Signs read, “Ruth Sent Us,” “A Woman’s Place is in the Resistance,” “More Than A Womb,” “Under His Eye America Will Fall,” “Blessed Be the Fight.” Others said, “Make Atwood and Orwell Fiction Again,” and “Don’t Confirm Before the Next Term.”

#RuthSentUs: Red Cloak National Protest Against Amy Coney Barrett Confirmation
Red Cloaks at the Massachusetts state Capitol on Oct. 25. (Jessie Steigerwald)

Protests occurred in more than twenty states, including in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Columbus, Ohio; Fort Myers, Florida; Fort Collins, Colorado; Bend, Oregon; Olympia, Washington; Madison, Wisconsin; Kalamazoo, Michigan; and Buffalo, New York. Little Rock, St. Louis, Phoenix, Atlanta, Albuquerque, Boise and Nashville had protests. All around the country, women gathered to protest.

Why Protest?

The Red Cloak National Protest had a three-fold purpose:

  1. To publicly protest the nomination, confirmation, and appointment of any Supreme Court Justice by the 45th president of the United States.
  2. To affirm equal rights for women, especially body autonomy.
  3. To honor the memory of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

In Boston, activists called for the Massachusetts legislature to pass the ROE Act, which would create an affirmative state right to abortion in the state and would remove medically unnecessary restrictions in place that force pregnant people to travel out of state for this essential health care during this pandemic. One speaker warned that the state must prepare to become “a destination on an underground railroad” for abortion health care.

#RuthSentUs: Red Cloak National Protest Against Amy Coney Barrett Confirmation
Red Cloaks in Boston, Mass. (Jessie Steigerwald)

With Barrett, the Supreme Court is likely to accelerate the erosion of Roe v. Wade or may even overturn the decision and end federal protection for abortion rights.

Without Roe, abortion will probably become illegal in 22 states. Ten states, including Idaho and Utah this year, have passed so-called trigger laws, which would automatically ban all abortions without Roe. An additional 12 states are considered highly likely to pass new abortion bans in a new legal environment, based on recent legislative action and state court rulings.

Forty-one percent of women of childbearing age would see the nearest abortion clinic close, and the average distance they would have to travel to reach one would be 280 miles, up from 36 miles now. The remaining clinics will not necessarily be able to handle increased demand. Women who can’t afford to travel to a legal clinic or arrange child care or leave from work for the trip would be most affected.

As the Senate stayed in session overnight in order to force Barrett into RBG’s seat, Senate Democrats engaged in impassioned floor speeches and activists held a 24-hour vigil at the U.S. Capitol steps starting at 7 p.m. Sunday night.

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About

Carrie N. Baker, J.D., Ph.D., is a Professor in the Program for the Study of Women and Gender at Smith College. Her 2007 book The Women's Movement Against Sexual Harassment won the National Women’s Studies Association Sara A. Whaley Book Prize. Her second book, Fighting the U.S. Youth Sex Trade: Gender, Race, and Politics, tells the story of activism against youth involvement in the sex trade in the United States between 1970 and 2015. Baker is the President of the Abortion Rights Fund of Western Massachusetts.