Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing began Monday as the Republican-led Senate charged ahead to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg with President Donald Trump’s pick, aiming to cement the conservative court majority before Election Day.
Barrett was wearing a face mask, as were all the roughly 100 people in the cavernous hearing room.
Barring a dramatic development, Republicans appear to have the votes to confirm the 48-year-old conservative appellate judge to a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court.
The Senate Judiciary Committee, meeting on a federal holiday, kicked off four days of statements and testimony in an environment that has been altered by the coronavirus pandemic. Some senators were taking part remotely, and the hearing room itself was arranged with health concerns in mind.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., opened the hearing acknowledging “the COVID problem in America is real.” But he said, “We do have a country that needs to move forward safely.”
Graham acknowledged the obvious: “This is going to be a long, contentious week.”
Democrats wasted no time in calling Barrett’s nomination a threat to the Affordable Care Act. If she is confirmed quickly she could be on the Supreme Court when it hears the latest challenge to the law popularly known as “Obamacare” on Nov. 10, a week after the election.
“Health care coverage for millions of Americans is at stake with this nomination,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the committee’s senior Democrat, said.
California’s other senator, and the Democrats’ nominee for vice president, Sen. Kamala Harris was at the Capitol complex, but was participating remotely.
“We are 22 days away from an election and people are voting right now. And that’s the focus given that they’re trying to push through, ram through a Supreme Court justice for a lifetime appointment while almost seven million people have already voted,” Harris said as she arrived at her office.
Barrett, a federal appeals court judge, was to tell senators that she is “forever grateful” for Ginsburg’s trailblazing path as a woman. But she is resolved to maintain the perspective of her own mentor, the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia and “apply the law as written,” according to her prepared opening remarks for the hearings.
“Courts are not designed to solve every problem or right every wrong in our public life,” Barrett says in the remarks, which The Associated Press obtained.
[Sourced from Agencies]