On Monday, the Senate Judiciary Committee kicked off confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, who President Donald Trump has nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who passed away very recently. If Barrett is confirmed according to the timeline that Republicans are planning, it will be the soonest before Election Day during a presidential election year that a U.S. Supreme Court Justice has ever been confirmed. At the Monday hearing, Judiciary Committee member Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) denounced his Republican colleagues for having “lined up obediently behind their leader again” with their rush to confirm Barrett.
Discussing the GOP’s infamous refusal to move forward on an Obama Supreme Court nomination in 2016, Durbin commented:
‘My Republican colleagues marched in front of the cameras, looked down at their shoes, reversed their positions and lined up obediently behind their leader again. Either the American people get a voice or they don’t. In 2016, Senator McConnell said give them a voice, now he says don’t give them a voice. It is a shameless, self-serving venal reversal. Why are Senate Republicans so afraid to give the American people a voice about the future of the Supreme Court?’
Durbin partially answered his own question. He suggested that the GOP’s rush is underlined by a fear that Trump will lose and a desire to have another conservative justice in place for post-election court battles.
Watch his comments below:
As the Monday hearing got underway, the Judiciary Committee’s top Democrat, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), insisted quite simply that she believes that the panel “should not be moving forward on this nomination,” period.
‘[In 2016], Senator McConnell said the American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice… Republicans should honor this word, for their promise, and let the American people be heard. Simply put, I believe we should not be moving forward on this nomination, not until the election has ended and the next president has taken office.’
In 2016, after an opening emerged on the Supreme Court following the death of Antonin Scalia, Senate Republicans — who controlled the chamber — refused to even hold hearings for then-President Barack Obama’s nominee to replace Scalia, Merrick Garland, citing the imminent election as an excuse. Now, Senate Republicans say that circumstances are different enough to warrant moving forward and undercutting their own precedent because the White House and Senate are controlled by the same political party. The fact of the matter is that Senate Republicans are blocking the American people from having any further say in the process via imminent election results.
During the hearing, Feinstein also pointed out Barrett’s past opposition to the Affordable Care Act as a point of serious concern. The U.S. Supreme Court will soon hear a case in which one side — which includes the Trump administration itself — is arguing for completely throwing out the Affordable Care Act. There is no comprehensive replacement plan ready to go from the Trump administration.
Addressing the nominee directly, Feinstein observed:
‘Judge Barrett, you’ve been critical of Chief Justice Roberts for his 5-4 opinion upholding the law, stating that Roberts ‘pushed the Affordable Care Act beyond its plausible meaning to save the statute.’ This well could mean that if Judge Barrett is confirmed, Americans stand to lose the benefits that the ACA provides.’
Watch Feinstein’s Monday opening statement below:
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) was also among those who spoke out. He criticized Barrett’s record of opposition to abortion rights.
Sen. Patrick Leahy tells judge Amy Coney Barrett that his constituents are “scared that the clock would be turned back to a time when women had no right to control their own bodies and when it was acceptable to discriminate against women in the workplace.” https://t.co/287bRvyVxi pic.twitter.com/FK1bYTA5mo
— ABC News (@ABC) October 12, 2020