WASHINGTON – The Senate panel tasked with vetting Amy Coney Barrett is set to approve her nomination to the Supreme Court on Thursday, meaning the federal appeals court judge could take her place as the ninth member of the high court by early next week, when the full Senate votes to confirm her.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is set to meet at 9 a.m. EDT. Barrett is expected to be approved by Republicans who hold the majority on the panel, with Democrats saying they will boycott the day’s proceedings. The full Senate is expected to take a final vote on Barrett’s confirmation on Monday, eight days before Election Day.
Democrats said they would boycott Thursday’s hearing and vote, hoping to prevent the committee from establishing a quorum. Instead, Democrats plan to hold a press conference Thursday morning during the hearing. The boycott effort appeared to be a longshot attempt at stalling the federal judge’s confirmation to the high court but Republicans vowed to move forward, with or without Democrats present.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, who chairs the Judiciary Committee, said the panel would vote regardless. “Judge Barrett deserves a vote and she will receive a vote,” he said, adding, “As to my Democratic colleagues’ refusal to attend the markup, that is a choice they are making. I believe it does a disservice to Judge Barrett who deserves a vote, up or down.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee’s rules outline that at least nine members of the majority (Republicans) and at least two members of the minority (Democrats) need to be present to conduct business.
While Democrats boycotting the hearing would technically mean the committee’s rules would bar Republicans from moving forward on Barrett’s nomination, it’s likely not to stop the process.
Sarah Binder, a political science professor at George Washington University and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, noted that “committee rules can’t enforce themselves.”
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Barrett dodged answering many inquiries that dealt with contentious issues, frustrating Democrats who were eager to derail her confirmation, while vowing to keep an open mind on any issue that comes before her on the court.
Since Ginsburg died in September, both sides have fought over how to go about replacing her on the court. Republicans have sought to confirm a new justice by Election Day in an effort to add one more conservative justice to the court before a contentious election. Democrats, hoping Joe Biden defeats Trump and they regain control of the Senate, have said the outcome of the election should determine who gets to choose a new Supreme Court justice.
If Barrett is confirmed, there would be a 6-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court.
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