Senate Sets Date for Vote on Confirmation of Barrett to Supreme Court

October 15, 2020 by Tom Ramstack
A protester talks to a Capitol Hill policeman during protests on Capitol Hill on Thursday. (Photo by Dan McCue)

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate is scheduled to vote October 22 on whether to confirm Amy Coney Barrett as a member of the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Senate Judiciary Committee set the date Thursday on the fourth day of contentious confirmation hearings in which Republicans and Democrats split along party lines on whether to support the conservative federal judge.

Speaking to reporters in Louisville, Kentucky, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that he’s going to bring Barrett’s nomination up for the floor the next day, likely culminating in a final floor vote just a few days before the election.

“We’ll go to the floor on Friday the 23 and stay on it until we finish. We have the votes,” to confirm her, McConnell said.

Republicans are rushing the vote only days before a presidential election in which Democratic candidate Joe Biden is a double-digit frontrunner.

Protesters outside the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing to consider the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. (Photo by Dan McCue)

“You’re just trying to ram through this justice,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., added, “It’s going to create a lot of bad will that doesn’t need to be created.”

Republicans said the timing of the vote was not as important as ensuring the nominee was competent for the Supreme Court. 

“There is no way you will convince me that Amy Coney Barrett is not qualified,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Until the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Sept. 18, the Supreme Court was divided 5-to-4 between conservatives and liberals. If Barrett is appointed, conservatives nominated by Republican presidents would hold a 6-to-3 supermajority.

Her Republican supporters in the Senate hold a majority that makes her confirmation next week nearly certain, according to legal experts who spoke during televised interviews this week. At 48 years old, she is expected to serve on the Supreme Court for decades.

The last day of the hearing was taken up by witnesses who testified about what Barrett’s career as a lawyer and judge on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago indicates about how she is likely to perform on the Supreme Court.

The attorney who led an American Bar Association evaluation of Barrett’s qualifications to be a judge described her as “well-qualified.”

The ranking, which is the American Bar Association’s highest rating for a judge, was based on “thousands of hours” of peer review, said Pamela Roberts, who also is a partner in a South Carolina law firm.

A protester in “A Handmaid’s Tale” garb outside the Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on Thursday. (Photo by Dan McCue)

The evaluation considered characteristics such as integrity, judicial competence, industriousness and writing skills.

“Judge Barrett’s professional competence exceeds these criteria,” Roberts said.

Other witnesses who opposed Barrett’s nomination spoke about their concerns she would seek to invalidate the Affordable Care Act and outlaw abortion.

The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, requires taxpayers to purchase health insurance while extending coverage to millions of Americans who could not afford it otherwise.

Stacy Staggs, a Charlotte, N.C., mother of prematurely born twin daughters, said the Affordable Care Act saved their lives.

They weighed no more than two pounds at birth and required extensive medical care. Now seven years old, they still need nursing care for a variety of health problems dating from birth.

The family never could have afforded the medical bills that now have grown to about $4 million without the Affordable Care Act, she said.

“Health care is a human right and decency matters,” Staggs said.

Crystal Good, a Charleton, W.Va., mother of three children, testified about getting an abortion at 16 years old while living in an abusive family situation.

She said the abortion saved her from a future that could have been more desperate without it.

“It should not depend in any way, shape or form on who your governor is or who sits on the Supreme Court,” Good said.

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