The US Senate Judiciary Committee has opened its four-day confirmation hearing for President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett.
President Trump picked Judge Barrett to replace liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died last month aged 87. Her nomination so close to the November 3rd presidential election has sparked a political row between the Republicans and rival Democrats. One Democratic senator on the committee described the process as “shameful”.
Democrats are firmly opposed to Barrett, whose confirmation would give the court a 6-3 conservative majority that could lead to rulings rolling back abortion rights, expanding religious and gun rights, and upholding Republican-backed voting restrictions, among other issues. At the start of the hearing, Senate Democrats branded Barrett a threat to Obama’s Affordable Care Act who was sent to do President Trump’s “political chores.”
“Judge Barrett, your nomination for a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land comes before us under a cloud, said Democratic senator Dick Durbin. “You have been nominated by a president who shows contempt for the Constitution, but does not hesitate to tell his loyal followers that you are being sent to the bench to do his political chores: abolish the ACA (Affordable Care Act), rule in his favor on any election contest and even more,” he said.
On the other hand, Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, a Republican, described Barrett as being “in a category of excellence, something the country should be proud of.”
The chairman also acknowledged the rapid confirmation timeline taking place in an election year, but defended the process.
“There’s nothing unconstitutional about this process. This is a vacancy that has occurred through the tragic loss of a great woman and we’re going to fill that vacancy with another great woman. The bottom line here is that the Senate is doing its duty constitutionally,” he said.
Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley predicted Democrats would “rustle up baseless claims and scare tactics” to smear the nominee and “disparage her religious beliefs”.
Judge Barret, a 48-year-old conservative jurist and devout catholic, has vowed to judge legal cases impartially. She will face questioning on Tuesday and Wednesday, and is expected to tell senators that as a judge she seeks to “reach the result required by the law, whatever my own preferences might be,” according to a copy of her prepared remarks released on Sunday.
Barring a dramatic development, Republicans appear to have the votes to confirm Barrett to a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court.goo