The Senate Judiciary Committee set an October 22 vote on Amy Coney Barrett's Supreme Court nomination before the November 3 election.
The Senate Judiciary Committee has set an October 22 vote on Amy Coney Barrett's Supreme Court nomination as Republicans race to confirm President Donald Trump's pick before the November 3 election.
Thursday's session was without Barrett after two long days of public testimony in which she stressed that she would be her own judge and sought to create distance between herself and past positions critical of abortion, the Affordable Care Act and other issues.
Her confirmation to take the seat of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg seems inevitable, as even some Senate Democrats acknowledged.
Senator Lindsey Graham pushed past Democratic objections to set the panel's October 22 vote on recommending her confirmation even before final witnesses testify before and against her nomination. The committee set the vote for next week.
In the minority, Democrats acknowledge there is little they can do stop them from locking a conservative majority on the court for years to come.
The shift would cement a 6-3 conservative majority on the court and would be the most pronounced ideological change in 30 years, from the liberal icon to the conservative appeals court judge.
Barrett and abortion rights
Barrett is the most open opponent of abortion nominated to the Supreme Court in decades, and Democrats fear that her ascension could be a tipping point that threatens abortion rights.
There was no hiding her views in at least three letters and ads she signed over 15 years and her membership in Notre Dame’s Faculty for Life. So Republican senators embraced her stance, proudly stating that she was, in Graham's words, an “unashamedly pro-life” conservative who is making history as a role model for other women.
Democrats pressed repeatedly on the judge’s approach to health care, abortion, racial equity and voting rights, but conceded they were unlikely to stop her quick confirmation.
Barrett also called the Voting Rights Act a “triumph in the civil rights movement,” without discussing the specifics of the earlier challenge to it. The court will hear another challenge to the law early next year.
One of the more dramatic moments came late on Wednesday when Barrett told California Senator Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice presidential nominee, that she wouldn't say whether racial discrimination in voting still exists nor express a view on climate change.
Harris asked if she agreed with Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote in a 2013 voting rights case that “voting discrimination still exists; no one doubts that.”
Barrett said she would “not comment on what any justice said in an opinion.”
Asked whether “climate change is happening,” Barrett said she wouldn't engage because it is “a very contentious matter of public debate.” Barrett did, however, say she believes the novel coronavirus is infectious and that smoking causes cancer.
Along with trying to undo the healthcare law, Trump has publicly stated he wants a justice seated for any disputes arising from the election, and particularly the surge of mail-in ballots expected during the pandemic as voters prefer to vote by mail.