Judge Amy Coney Barrett, U.S. President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, poses during a meeting with U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. September 30, 2020.
Erin Scott | Reuters
The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday scheduled an Oct. 22 vote on whether to approve Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court in a rowdy hearing in which Democrats made procedural objections and said the rush to confirm the nominee was unprecedented.
As the hearing unfolded in Washington, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reportedly said in Kentucky that the Senate had the votes to confirm Barrett to the high court, essentially assuring that the efforts by Democrats to delay her confirmation will be unsuccessful.
McConnell, who was in his home state to cast his ballot, said he expects to bring Barrett’s nomination to the Senate floor on Oct. 23, Bloomberg News reported. That time frame would allow her to be seated ahead of the Nov. 3 election between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee.
There was little doubt that Republicans, who hold 53 seats in the Senate, would have the necessary votes, though Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine have objected. Trump has repeatedly pressed for Barrett to be seated in time to resolve any election disputes that arise.
The developments came after Barrett faced two days of intense but civil marathon questioning by senators on the Judiciary Committee on Tuesday and Wednesday. Barrett is expected to be confirmed by the committee by a party line vote, with all 12 Republicans in her favor and 10 Democrats opposed.
Democratic senators tried in vain to derail Thursday’s committee hearing. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., objected to the GOP effort to schedule the vote by noting that he was the only Democrat in the room, and that the rules required at least two members of the minority party to be present.
Committee Chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., pushed on anyway.
“If we create this problem for you in the future, you are going to do what I am going to do, which is move forward with the business of the committee,” Graham told him.
Some Democrats, who had been waiting outside the hearing room, entered and objected to Graham’s move.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said the process was a “rush” and a “sham” and motioned to adjourn the hearing, prompting a round of speeches by members of the committee.
“There has never been a nomination in an election year after the month of July, and the purpose of doing it is simply to have a justice on the Supreme Court, as the president said, to decide the election and strike down the Affordable Care Act,” Blumenthal said.
“You’re just trying to ram through this justice, against your own words, in light of everything this president has said, where he won’t even commit to a peaceful transfer of power,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.
Blumenthal’s motion failed by a party line vote around 11 a.m. ET.
Barrett’s confirmation to the Supreme Court will give the nine-member panel its sixth Republican appointee and its third Trump pick, shifting the balance of the court further in favor of Republicans. The 48-year-old federal appeals court judge could sit on the bench for decades.