Trump Suggests Republicans Scrap Hearings and Vote

It's day one of the Amy Coney Barrett confirmation hearings
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 12, 2020 11:51 AM CDT
Senator Who Tested Positive Speaks Maskless at Hearing
Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett arrives back from a break in her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing.   (Win McNamee/Pool via AP)

(Newser) – As a Senate panel begins the confirmation hearings for Amy Coney Barrett, two things seem like safe bets. The first is that Republicans have the votes to confirm. The second is that, as predicted by judiciary panel chief Lindsey Graham in his introduction of Barrett Monday, "this is going to be a long, contentious week." Senators won't actually start questioning the judge until Tuesday. Coverage:

  • ObamaCare: As expected, Democrats were putting an emphasis on the danger Barrett represents to the Affordable Care Act. (A key case is on the docket next month.) "The president has promised to appoint justices who will vote to dismantle that law," said Dianne Feinstein in her opening statement, adding that coverage of "millions of Americans is at stake." The Hill notes that while Barrett has "dropped big hints" that she would vote against the ACA, she hasn't explicitly stated it.
  • Maskless: Mike Lee, one of two GOP senators to test positive for COVID earlier this month, took part in the proceedings in person and addressed the panel for several minutes without a mask, notes NPR. "I feel great!" he shouted to reporters before the hearing. He also released a letter from the Attending Physician of Congress stating, "Based on current CDC guidelines, you have met criteria to end COVID-19 isolation for those with mild to moderate disease," per the AP. Thom Tillis, the other to test positive, is participating remotely.

  • Trump: The president is weighing in, and Politico reports that he appeared to suggest Republicans dispense with the hearings and call a vote. "The Republicans are giving the Democrats a great deal of time, which is not mandated, to make their self serving statements relative to our great new future Supreme Court Justice," he tweeted. "Personally, I would pull back, approve, and go for STIMULUS for the people!!!"
  • Kamala Harris: Appearing remotely, she blasted the decision to move ahead with the hearing as "reckless," reports ABC News. "This hearing has brought together more than 50 people to sit inside of a closed-door room for hours while our nation is facing a deadly airborne virus," she said, adding that staffers and janitorial crews, along with their families, now were at risk of exposure.
  • In defense: Democrats publicly bristled against the quick, pre-election nomination, but the GOP's Ted Cruz defended the move. "History is clear," he said, per the Washington Post. "The framers of the Constitution deliberately set up a system of checks and balances so that nobody can become a Supreme Court nominee without both the president and the Senate. Each was assigned to check the other. That system of checks and balances limits power ultimately and protects the voters. And indeed, the voters made a clear choice."
  • Health risk, II: Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat, also complained about what he saw as inefficient COVID precautions at the hearings. "I do not know who has been tested, who should be tested, who is a danger, what contact tracing has been done on infected and exposed senators and staff," he said. "Nothing. The whole thing, just like Trump, is an irresponsible botch."
  • Qualifications: The American Bar Association pronounced Barrett "well qualified" to serve on the Supreme Court in a letter to the committee, reports the AP.
  • Barrett speaks. Barrett didn't stray far from her prepared remarks when she addressed the committee, the Washington Post reports. "The policy decisions and value judgments of government must be made by the political branches elected by and accountable to the people," she said. "The public should not expect courts to do so, and courts should not try." She also paid tribute to predecessors including Antonin Scalia, Sandra Day O'Connor, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She said she had "thought carefully" before accepting the nomination three days after Ginsburg's death.
(Read more Amy Coney Barrett stories.)

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