GOP-led Senate panel advances Judge Amy as Democrats boycott

GOP-led Senate panel advances Judge Amy as Democrats boycott

Friday, October 23, 2020

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WASHINGTON, DC, United States (AP) — Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans powered past a Democratic boycott yesterday to advance Amy Coney Barrett's Supreme Court nomination to the full Senate, keeping President Donald Trump's pick on track for confirmation before election day.

Democratic senators refused to show up in protest of the GOP's rush to install Trump's nominee to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Never has the Senate confirmed a Supreme Court nominee so close to a presidential election.

All 12 Republicans on the panel voted in favour of Barrett, a conservative judge. No-show Democrats displayed posters at their desks of Americans they say have benefited from the Affordable Care Act now being challenged in court. Senators plan to convene a rare weekend session ahead of a final confirmation vote expected Monday.

Republicans have bristled at Democrats' claim that the Affordable Care Act is in jeopardy if Barrett joins the court, but Trump told CBS “it will be so good” if the court puts an end to the law. The court will hear a Trump-backed case against the “Obamacare” law on November 10.

“I think it'll end. I hope that they'll end it.,” Trump said in comments released yesterday by the White House ahead of Trump's CBS 60 Minutes interview airing Sunday.

Barrett, 48, would lock a 6-3 conservative court majority for the foreseeable future. That could open a new era of rulings on abortion access, gay marriage and even the results of the presidential election.

As the judiciary panel met, protesters, some shouting “Stop the confirmation!” demonstrated outside the Capitol across the street from the Supreme Court. Some dressed as handmaids, a reference to Barrett's role in a conservative religious group that once called high-ranking women members “handmaids”. Other demonstrators had “#SupportAmy” signs.

The protesters drowned out Democratic senators who had called a news conference to decry what they called a “sham” confirmation process.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said the Senate Republican majority “is conducting the most rushed, most partisan and the least legitimate nomination to the Supreme Court in our nation's history”.

“Democrats will not lend a single ounce of legitimacy to this sham vote,” he said. Unable to stop the confirmation, Democrats have been trying unsuccessfully to stall the process so the winner of the presidency could name the new nominee.

With Republicans holding a 53-47 majority in the Senate, Trump's pick for the court is almost certain to be confirmed. All Democrats are expected to oppose Barrett's confirmation.

“This is a groundbreaking, historic moment,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, R-SC, the committee chairman. “We did it.”

Barrett, an appellate court judge from Indiana, appeared for three days before the judiciary panel last week, batting back Democrats' questions. She was asked about her approach to legal questions surrounding abortion access, gay marriage and the nation's tradition of a peaceful transfer of presidential power.

Trump has said he wants a judge seated in time to hear any potential disputes arising from the November 3 Presidential Election, and Barrett declined to say if she would recuse herself from such cases.

Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said the court fight will be perhaps the “single most important accomplishment” of Trump's presidency.

Republican senators ridiculed the Democratic boycott as election-year antics.

“Rather than show up and do their job, they continue the theatre,” said Senator John Cornyn, R-Texas, pointing out the posters at the senators' desks. Senator Mike Lee, R-Utah, called the boycott “a walkout on the American people”.

But Democrats on the committee insisted the Republicans were rushing the nomination to tip the court even further to the right.

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