WASHINGTON — Republicans on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, as Democrats boycotted the markup in a show of protest.
The 12 Republicans on the panel speedily voted on Barrett’s nomination and sent it to the Senate floor. The full Senate will vote Monday, and Barrett is expected to be confirmed, with only a simple majority vote needed. “I doubt a single Dem will vote for her,” Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said.
While Democrats boycotted the markup, placed in the seats of their empty chairs were large pictures of people with preexisting health conditions who would be harmed if the Affordable Care Act were repealed. Democrats throughout the confirmation process have stressed how devastating it would be to overturn the ACA in the middle of a pandemic that has killed more than 220,000 Americans since early this year.
The Supreme Court is hearing a Republican challenge to the law next month, and President Donald Trump has tweeted and publicly stated that all his nominees to the Supreme Court will vote to repeal the landmark Obama-era health care law.
Barrett, 48, a judge for the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Illinois, was tapped to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Sept. 18. Barrett’s nomination has spurred an outcry from Democrats, who argue that she should not be confirmed with only 11 days till the presidential election.
Advocates fear her religious views and track record on abortion rights and LGBT rights, as well as her previous writings on health care, will harm Americans.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), speaking to reporters outside the hearing room, defended Barrett’s Catholic religion.
“This is the most openly pro-life candidate for the Supreme Court in my lifetime,” he said, according to a pool report. “And once again, their attempts to attack her for her pro-life views which are well established in the record, just to fall flat. Polls clearly reflect the American people want her confirmed. She will be confirmed on Monday.”
If approved, Barrett’s confirmation will significantly shift the court to the right for generations, giving conservatives six of the nine seats.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), a senior member of Judiciary, also defended Barrett, saying that she would stick to the law.
“Throughout the hearing, Democrats spun a bunch of nonsense about Judge Barrett and the Affordable Care Act,” Grassley said. “We all know that that’s bunk from how she’s described her approach to that ACA. Judge Barrett made clear then that she doesn’t have an agenda.”
Barrett worked as a law professor at Notre Dame Law School for many years and previously clerked under the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who was her mentor.
Graham said that her nomination would be iconic for conservative women, just like Ginsburg’s, who was seen as a feminist hero and left a legacy of women’s rights.
“It’s historic for young conservative women knowing that there’s a seat at the table for them,” he said.
Outside on the Capitol steps, Senate Democrats voiced their opposition to Barrett during a news conference. As they spoke, a handful of protesters dressed as handmaids who also oppose Barrett’s confirmation could be heard shouting.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) criticized what he described as “the most rushed, the most partisan, and least legitimate process” of a Supreme Court nomination.
“Democrats will not lend one single ounce of legitimacy to this awful, awful hearing,” Schumer said. “We are voting with our feet.”
After removing a face mask emblazoned with the image of Ginsburg’s dissent collar, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar said the Senate should be honoring the late justice’s final wish and allowing the next president to select her replacement.
Senate Republicans “have engaged in a sham, in violating their own precedent, in not listening to the words of the great Justice Ginsburg,” Klobuchar said.
Among other GOP senators on the Judiciary Committee:
- Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana: “The Judiciary Committee spent 20 hours questioning Judge Barrett, and that made at least two points crystal clear. First, by virtue of her intellect, judicial temperament and integrity, this judge is exceptionally qualified to join the highest court in the land. Second, because of her intellect, judicial temperament and integrity, Democrats have no legitimate objection to her nomination. Instead, they’ve pulled political stunts in order to distract from the truth Americans already recognize: The Senate is doing its constitutional duty in filling a Supreme Court seat with a jurist who will be loyal to the Constitution.”
- Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa:“Throughout her legal and academic career, and again during her confirmation hearings last week, Judge Barrett has demonstrated she has the character and disposition Iowans, and all Americans, are looking for in a Supreme Court Justice. Despite the left’s best attempts to project their views on Judge Barrett and attack her faith and family, she made a clear case that she would be a thoughtful, restrained, and wise Supreme Court justice who would defend the Constitution.”
- Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee: “Last week, Judge Barrett proved to be a sharp, qualified legal superstar with every answer to our questions, all without a single note in front of her. She is an originalist and a textualist, and I have complete trust in her ability to serve dutifully on our Supreme Court.”
- Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina, on Oct. 15 following the end of the Barrett hearings: “She demonstrated incredible preparation and poise, and I think she is going to make a great justice. Judge Barrett received a ‘well-qualified’ rating by the American Bar Association and is an inspiration to everyone, especially to young aspiring female lawyers. I look forward to voting for her confirmation on the Senate floor.”