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South Carolina Senate Candidate Suggests Amy Coney Barrett Would Roll Back Civil Rights: ‘I Don’t Look Good in Chains’

Jaime Harrison speaks during a Democratic National Committee forum in Baltimore, Md., in 2017. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

South Carolina Senate candidate Jaime Harrison on Wednesday questioned whether Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett would “roll back the civil rights of folks” saying, “I don’t look good in chains, so I’m not going back to that.”

The comments came during a Post and Courier Pints and Politics event in Columbia, South Carolina where Harrison, a Democrat who is challenging three-time Republican incumbent Lindsey Graham, discussed whether he would vote for Barrett’s confirmation to the Supreme Court. 

“I would love to have an opportunity to ask her some questions,” he said. “Are you going to roll back the civil rights of folks?” 

“We need to move closer to that standard of all people being created equally and being treated equally in this country,” he continued. “And if the way that you interpret the law is to roll back on those civil rights gained by folks? Then I can’t be supportive of that.”

He said he does not support adding seats to the nine-seat Supreme Court, a move some Democrats have supported in retaliation over Republicans’ decision to move forward with Barrett’s nomination so close to the November 3 election. 

“There are ramifications for what you do when you open up Pandora’s box,” he said. “And so I don’t wanna change filibusters, I don’t believe that we should change the Supreme Court at this point in time. And so I don’t want to open that Pandora’s box.”

He qualified that position in saying, “And so if folks are starting to say Plessy v. Ferguson needs to be established law again, well let me tell you, as a black man who grew up in the South, I ain’t gonna let that happen,” referencing the landmark Supreme Court decision that said racial segregation was constitutional under the separate but equal doctrine.

“Right? So let’s be clear about that. I don’t look good in chains, so I’m not going back to that,” he added.

Though Harrison added that he does not think “we would ever go back to that.”

The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan outlet dedicated to analyzing and predicting elections, moved the South Carolina Senate race from “lean Republican” to a “toss-up” on Wednesday as a number of polls have shown Graham and Harrison in a tie. The tightening of the race only weeks ahead of the election is a marked change from earlier this year when the South Carolina Senator enjoyed a double-digit lead. 

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