Confirmation Process Begins for Amy Coney Barrett
The confirmation process for SCOTUS nominee Amy Coney Barrett began Monday, but the five-hour event was more of a debate on election issues than anything else.
“This is probably not about persuading each other, unless something really dramatic happens,” said Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC). “All Republicans will vote yes, and all Democrats will vote no.”
Democrats presented a united front in the opinion that President Trump chose Barrett solely to overturn the Affordable Care Act.
“Republicans finally realized the ACA is too popular to repeal in Congress, so now they are trying to bypass the will of voters and have the Supreme Court do their dirty work,” said Vice Presidential nominee Kamala Harris (D-CA), who attended Monday’s hearing remotely. “If they succeed, it will result in millions of people losing access to healthcare at the worst possible time, in the middle of a pandemic.”
If Barrett is confirmed this month, she will participate in the Supreme Court’s consideration of a lawsuit against the ACA on November 10th. If the court sides with the state of Texas, the ACA could be dismantled.
“It sounds as if one of the attacks against her will be the allegation that if she is confirmed to be on the Supreme Court, she will be on a mission from God to personally deny insurance overage to all Americans [with] pre-existing conditions,” said Senator John Kennedy (R-LA). “I think most of my colleagues know that’s not true.”
Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) actually called on Barrett to recuse herself, claiming that her participation in any case involving Trump’s election would ruin the legitimacy of the Supreme Court and damage her personal credibility.
Republicans also presented a united front during the hearing, defending their right to confirm Barrett so close to the election and drawing parallels between Democrats’ attacks on Barrett’s Catholic faith and their treatment of Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation process.
Senator Kennedy (R-LA) described Kavanaugh’s confirmation process as a “freak show” not unlike “the Cantina Bar scene out of Star Wars,” while Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) noted Democrats’ “pattern and practice of religious bigotry.”
With both sides united in their opinion of Barrett, the only real threat to her confirmation is COVID. At least three GOP Senators have tested positive for the virus in the past two weeks, including two members of the Judiciary Committee.
Democrats have been demanding that Graham pause the confirmation process so that all members of the chamber can be tested for COVID and evaluated by a doctor. Graham refused.
“This hearing itself is a microcosm of Trump’s dangerous ineptitude in dealing with the COVID pandemic,” complained Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).
Barrett delivered her opening remarks at the close of the hearing, during which she noted her close relationship with the late Justice Antonin Scalia: “A judge must apply the law as written, not as the judge wishes it were,” she said. “Sometimes that approach meant reaching results that he did not like, but as he put it in one of his best known opinions, that is what it means to say we have a government of laws, not of men.”
Barrett also noted that – if confirmed – she would be the first Supreme Court Justice with school-aged children and who is not a product of Yale or Harvard. Of her Catholic faith, Barrett said she “believes in the power of prayer.”
The real action will take place Tuesday and Wednesday, when Barrett will endure long hours of direct questioning from individual Senators. The Senate Judiciary Committee plans to vote on Barrett’s nomination October 22nd, with a full chamber vote to follow near the end of the month.