The vote on the Supreme Court nominee is set for Oct. 22.
Democrats on Thursday mounted a brief protest to try and delay committee actions on the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court, however, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham barreled ahead with assistance from his GOP colleagues on the panel — casting aside committee rules in the process.
“I wish to take official notice of this fact that I’m the only member of the minority which is here, and so we can’t conduct business until that next member of the minority is here,” Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois told Graham, referencing committee principles which require two members of this minority to be present to conduct business.
Graham hit :”If we create this difficulty for you in the future, you are going to do exactly what I’m going to do which is move forward on the company of this committee.: A short vote was conducted with all Republicans supporting the chairman, and the protest was ended.
With Democrats’ delay attempt shut down and a vote on the nomination scheduled for Oct. 22 at 1 p.m., it was even more apparent that Barrett is on course to be approved by the Senate by Election Day, an integral goal of President Donald Trump who has stated she would help determine any election-related dispute which arrives by the Supreme Court.
Barrett said she would seriously contemplate whether she should recuse herself but didn’t commit to recusal as Democrats pushed her to do. She did not attend Thursday’s hearing.
Despite the unusually low-key question-and-answer span on Tuesday and Wednesday, Democrats were highly critical of Barrett since the proceeding neared a close, projecting her increase to the nation’s highest court at the most ominous provisions, accusing her of wanting to be an activist judge who will surely cast a deciding vote to strike down scores of laws that would impact millions of Americans, from guaranteed health care for all those with preexisting coverage to same sex marriage and even climate change.
“They want her to be the justice to make a decision on the election, rather than the voters,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., told colleagues,”And they need a person to strike down the Affordable Care Act and Roe v. Wade.”
Barrett, for her part, studiously avoided any indication of how she might one day rule, if supported, refusing to answer even the simplest of questions – including whether or not a president has the capacity to postpone an election. According to federal law, this power rests solely with Congress.
Instead, Barrett kept fast to a stock response she utilized in similar manners throughout 19 hours of questioning,”If that question ever came before me, I would need to hear arguments from the litigants and read briefs and consult with my law clerks and speak to my coworkers and go through the comment writing process. So, if I give off the cuff answers, then I would be essentially an authorized pundit. I don’t think we need judges to be legal pundits.”
The focus of a lot of the two days of questioning was about the Affordable Care Act with a case coming before the high court only one week after the election, and Democrats making the situation that a Justice Barrett would probably cast the deciding vote that would see the destruction of the Obama-era law and finally leave some 20 million Americans with preexisting states without health care.
GOP Sen. John Cornyn of Texas accused Democrats of raising”straw men” to frighten Americans into believing Barrett would take away their health care.
“I have been really struggling to find out the truth, to know why Judge Barrett is this kind of danger to them. It is because they’ve become accustomed that when they lose elections and they lose votes in the Congress, they depend on courts to bail them out. That’s not what judges ought to do,” Cornyn admonished.
Democrats repeatedly resisted the expedited hearings occurring just 14 days from Barrett’s nomination, citing new talks found to a Notre Dame calendar awarded by Barrett at her time as a professor — first reported by CNN — that weren’t contained in the committee questionnaire as required.
Never in history has a nominee to the Supreme Court been verified so close to an election.
“The courtroom is definitely going to the right, along together with her presence on the court… all of these precedents are subject to being chased. That is what is at stake”
Democrat Durbin said he feared for the future of this panel with rules and norms broken so casually.
“I don’t know how we do this train back on the track. This nomination is not ordinary… We should have waited,” Durbin cautioned.
The threat of this pandemic loomed large over the hearing, with hand sanitizer and disinfectant evident around and almost every attendee masked.
Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware announced Thursday afternoon that he had just come back from getting a virus evaluation administered by the Capitol Attending Physician”so I can reunite with some confidence to my family this evening I haven’t picked it up while here,” adding he was not”confident” that attendees were kept safe.
Despite the occasional acrimony, the overpowering respectful hearings ended in collegiality.
Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein thanked GOP chairman Graham for holding exactly what she called”among the finest Senate hearings I have ever participated in” and after both hugged.
Graham heaped praise upon Barrett, and ended by remarking that he is optimistic that polarized Americans could”start over” following the election.
“Let me only say an election will come. Winners will be declared. We get to start over,” Graham explained. “The thing that I like most about democracy is it’s a journey with no destination. When are we going to get there? We actually do. When you are a kid you are enthusiastic about moving. It really is the travel. I really don’t know how this election is going to come out. I am hopeful for each side. Having said this, 2016 was a curveball in lots of ways. I really don’t know what is going to happen. The more people vote, the better,” Graham, in his reelection fight, lasted.
“When it’s all over in a few weeks. I will just say this, if I am about, I will dedicate myself into starting over.