U.S. Judge Amy Coney Barrett, who was nominated for the U.S. Supreme Court on Capitol Hill in Washington on September 30, 2020.
Sarah Silbiger | Pool | Reuters
Confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett will begin Monday despite Democrats criticizing that the event may be unsafe due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee begin at 9:00 a.m. [CET] and last until Thursday.
Committee chairman Senator Lindsey Graham, RS.C., said he expected the committee to approve the 48-year-old judge by October 22, so that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would have time to review the Nomination to be brought to the Senate beforehand Election Day.
The confirmation battle, which takes place in the middle of the controversial election campaign between former Vice President Joe Biden and President Donald Trump, has so far been missing from the theaters of the last fight for a candidate for the Supreme Court.
The consequences could prove dramatic, however, as Trump seeks to cement a conservative majority of 6 to 3 in the country's highest court. Barrett was nominated to succeed Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who served on the Supreme Court for nearly three decades and became its highest liberal judiciary.
Barrett is expected to speak at the end of the day on Monday. In prepared remarks, the judge focuses on her family and introduces the judicial committee to her seven children and her husband, Jesse.
She also praises Ginsburg and her legal mentor, Justice Antonin Scalia, with whom she shares a philosophy. Ginsburg and Scalia were close friends, but ideological opposites.
Barrett will also express her view that courts should avoid making political decisions and value judgments. She will say, "must be taken by the branches of politics which are elected and accountable to the people."
"The public shouldn't expect courts to do this and courts shouldn't try," she will say.
Above the confirmation is Ginsburg's last wish that she be replaced after the election that Biden and his allies in Congress have urged Republicans to heed. Barrett does not address Ginsburg's dying testimony in her prepared remarks, but shares kind words about the late justice.
"I was nominated to fill the seat of Justice Ginsburg, but no one will ever take her place. I will forever be grateful for the path she marked and for the life she led," said Barrett say.
While Barrett's confirmation on the bank would likely shift the law to the right on a number of key issues, the Democrats are expected to focus on Barrett's previous statements related to abortion and the Affordable Care Act.
Recently, the Democrats criticized Barrett for failing to disclose her participation in a 2006 newspaper ad alleging the repeal of Roe v. Wade, the landmark abortion decision, was challenged. Barrett, a devout Catholic, was a member of Notre Dame's Faculty for Life anti-abortion group, but said her personal views did not affect her interpretation of the law.
Democrats also picked up Barrett's 2017 comments in a book review criticizing Chief Justice John Roberts' reasoning in a case that upheld landmark health legislation. Barrett wrote that Roberts "pushed the law on affordable care beyond its plausible meaning to save the law".
The Supreme Court will re-examine the constitutionality of the law in this term.
Potential for drama
The senators' questions are scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday. One Senator to be in the limelight will be Senator Kamala Harris, a skillful questioner and candidate for Democratic Vice President. Harris will attend the hearings remotely, according to a spokesman.
"As Chairman Graham and the Senate Republicans push ahead with the Supreme Court confirmation hearings tomorrow – less than two weeks after Members test positive – they are putting not only the lives of Members and our staff at risk, but the hardworking people as well who keep the Senate complex running, "Harris wrote in a post on Twitter on Sunday.
Regardless of what happens at the hearings, all 10 Democrats on committee are expected to be against Barrett and the 12 Republicans to support them. Surprises aside, Barrett is expected to be ratified by the entire Senate.
Republicans have a majority of 53 seats in the 100-member chamber, and only two Republicans, Maine Sen. Susan Collins and Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, have opposed Barrett's nomination.
One possible wrinkle that can appear is the coronavirus.
The disease fell ill to two Republican Justice Committee members, Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Thom Tillis of North Carolina, shortly after they attended Barrett's White House nomination ceremony late last month. A third Republican senator, Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, tested positive shortly thereafter.
These Senators are expected to recover in time to take Barrett's confirmation vote. If others catch the virus later this month, it could put Republicans' narrow margin at risk.