Judge Amy Coney Barrett moved one step closer to a seat on the Supreme Court as the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced her nomination with solely Republican support today.
WASHINGTON POST: Democrats boycotted the vote in protest of what they viewed as an illegitimate confirmation process.
The vote was 12 to 0, with no Democrats present to officially register their objections.
Democratic senators boycotted the proceedings to protest Republicans’ fast-tracking the nomination of the 48-year-old conservative jurist within days of the Nov. 3 election.
Democrats argue that the president elected next month should fill the court vacancy.
“That was their choice,” committee chairman Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said. “It will be my choice to vote the nominee out of committee. We’re not going to allow them to take over the committee.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said the full Senate will vote Monday on the Barrett nomination. Republicans, who hold a 53-to-47 majority, have the votes to install her on the court.
“It is supremely ironic our Democratic colleagues delivered through a temper tantrum what they should have delivered through a fair appraisal, unanimous endorsement,” McConnell said in remarks on the Senate floor hours after the committee vote. “They, of course, were not there. All last week, the legal brilliance and judicial temperament that our nation deserves in a Supreme Court justice were on full display,” he added, referring to Barrett at her confirmation hearings.
The committee’s action prompted a tweet from Trump: “Judiciary Committee approves Judge Barrett. Moves to full Senate for final vote. Big day for America!”
If confirmed, Barrett will be Trump’s third justice on the Supreme Court.
She could be sworn in as early as Tuesday, giving her an opportunity to participate in election-related challenges before Nov. 3.
The court also will hear oral arguments Nov. 10 in the GOP-led case, backed by the Trump administration, to invalidate the Affordable Care Act and its protections for millions of Americans with preexisting medical conditions.
Trump, in an interview with “60 Minutes,” said of the court and the ACA: “It’ll be so good if they end it.” The White House released the interview Thursday.
At the committee meeting, aides had placed in the seats of the Democratic senators 10 large portraits of people who benefited from the Affordable Care Act. Each person was someone whom the senators spoke about at Barrett’s confirmation hearings, which senators centered on the issue of health care and the future of the 2010 law known as Obamacare.
“This is not a decision the members of the committee have taken lightly, but a Republican majority has left us no choice,” Senate Minority Leader Charles. E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said during a news conference on the steps of the Capitol after the committee vote. “We are boycotting this illegitimate hearing.”
Schumer, who accused Senate Republicans of “conducting the most rushed, the most partisan, and the least legitimate nomination to the Supreme Court in the nation’s history,” said the Democrats “will not lend a single ounce of legitimacy to this sham vote in the Judiciary Committee.”
Graham defended Barrett’s record ahead of the panel’s vote to advance her nomination.
“I’ve been here for a while, and I’ve never seen anyone more capable than Judge Barrett on the law,” he said, praising her “deep and wide understanding of the law.”
“And to all the people out there wondering about Judge Barrett I can tell you this: The law of Amy will not be applied to the case and controversy,” Graham added. “It will be the law as written in the Constitution or by statute or whatever regulatory body she is going to review. She will take her job on without agenda.”
Graham also defended Barrett’s personal values after Democrats expressed concern during the confirmation hearings that her presence on the Supreme Court would result in further abortion restrictions.
Both liberals and conservatives have suggested, based on her academic writings, personal beliefs and rulings as a judge, that she would support restricting or outright overturning the landmark abortion rights decision Roe v. Wade that guarantees a woman’s right to an abortion.
“It’s okay to be a complete person and be on the Supreme Court. It’s okay to be pro-life,” Graham said in talking about the judge ahead of the vote. “She embraces the pro-life cause in her personal life, but she understands judging is not a cause, it is a process. She embraces her faith like millions of other Americans.”
Democrats cast Barrett as a threat to abortion rights and the Affordable Care Act.
“Last week, Democrats participated in the nomination hearings because we wanted to show what was at stake for America if Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed. We made our case about risks to affordable care, especially the Affordable Care Act, reproductive freedom, the right to vote and equality for all,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), the top Democrat on the committee, said at the news conference. “We believe both the Affordable Care Act and Roe v. Wade could be lost.”
Democrats have lashed out at Republicans, calling them hypocrites, based on their actions in 2016 when the court had a vacancy.
Then, McConnell refused to consider Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, the choice of President Barack Obama to fill the vacancy created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016.
McConnell and Senate Republicans, including Graham, insisted that the president chosen in November of that year, eight months after Obama’s nomination, should fill the seat.
Republicans argue that the circumstances are different because Republicans hold the White House and the Senate majority.