GOP-led Senate panel advances Barrett despite Dems' boycott

Amy Coney Barrett confirmation hearing on Oct. 13, 2020. | Source: NBC News

The Senate Judiciary Committee has advanced Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination to the full Senate.

Posted: Oct 22, 2020 8:31 AM
Updated: Oct 22, 2020 9:09 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate Judiciary Committee voted Thursday to advance Amy Coney Barrett's Supreme Court nomination to the full Senate as Republicans powered past Democrats' boycott of the session.

Democratic senators refused to show up in protest of the GOP's rush to install President Donald 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.

The Republicans, who hold the majority, voted in favor of Barrett, a conservative judge. Senators plan to convene a rare weekend session for procedural actions ahead of a final confirmation vote expected Monday.

“Barrett deserves to be on the Supreme Court and she will be confirmed,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., the committee chairman. Democrats, he said, “made a choice not to participate.”

Instead, Democrats arranged for posters to be placed at their spots of constituents they said had been helped by the Affordable Care Act.

The 48-year-old federal judge’s ascent to the high court would lock a 6-3 conservative majority on the court for the foreseeable future.

Trump's Republican allies in the Senate are counting on Barrett's ascent to improve their standing with voters. The court could open a new era of rulings on the Affordable Care Act, abortion access and even the results of the presidential election.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer announced the planned boycott in a speech late Wednesday on the Senate floor.

“We should not be moving forward on this nomination,” Schumer said, calling Barrett’s views “so far out of the mainstream.”

Unable stop the confirmation, Democrats have been trying unsuccessfully to stall the process until after the Nov. 3 election, so the winner of the presidency could name the new nominee. “These are all such violations of American norms, values, decency and honor,” Schumer said.

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.

Boycotting Thursday's Judiciary panel session was forcing Republicans on the panel to change its rules to keep the confirmation on track. Those rules say at least two members of the minority party, Democrats, would need to be present to constitute a quorum for doing business.

Mike Davis, a former top aide on the panel who now advises Senate Republicans, said the committee was well within its normal practice to hold the vote, even with Democrats skipping it. He said the longstanding practice has been to allow business to go forward if all members of the majority, Republicans, attend.

Countering that view, a Democratic aide granted anonymity to discuss the proceedings said never before have the rules been brushed past for a Supreme Court confirmation.

Barrett, an appellate court judge from Indiana, appeared for three days before the 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 Nov. 3 election, and Barrett declined to say if she would recuse herself from such cases.

Many judicial nominees decline to discuss their views on various issues, saying they will consider the cases as they come. Barrett took a similar approach, drawing deep skepticism from Democrats because she had previously spoken out against abortion and past rulings on the Affordable Care Act.

The court is set to hear a challenge to the health care law on Nov. 10, one week after the presidential election, and Trump has said he wants a justice who won’t rule as others have to uphold the Obama-era Affordable Care Act.

Barrett released dozens of answers this week to additional questions senators had posed, but her responses were similar as she declined to weigh in on whether the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion ruling is a so-called “super precedent” of the court or whether the president could unilaterally change the date set in law for the election.

Two Republican senators on the panel, Mike Lee and Thom Tillis, tested positive for COVID-19 after attending the Rose Garden event where Trump announced Barrett as his nominee. The panel established remote operations during the coronavirus pandemic. Those two senators have since returned to in-person sessions, saying their doctors cleared them from quarantine.

Two other Republicans, Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, have objected to the quick vote, but they are not on the panel.

Senate Majority Leader McConnell has defended Barrett as “exceptionally qualified” as well as his own decision to push her nomination forward, even after he refused to consider Barack Obama’s nominee in February 2016 saying it was too close to a presidential election, with Obama in his second and final term.

On Wednesday, McConnell criticized a story from The Associated Press that delved into Barrett’s role on the board of trustees of a Christian school with anti-gay policies toward student families and staff.

McConnell noted that Barrett had already disclosed her work with the school to the Senate and “has taken the same oath of impartiality as every other federal judge, and has affirmed over and over that her legal judgment is independent from her private opinions.”

Republicans have focused on Barrett's Catholic faith, calling her a role model for conservative and religious women.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 148387

Reported Deaths: 3769
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto9874101
Hinds9821198
Harrison6982110
Jackson6218119
Rankin5417102
Lee498495
Madison4711106
Forrest375086
Jones352488
Lauderdale3412145
Lafayette319749
Washington3153107
Lamar286349
Oktibbeha243562
Bolivar240884
Lowndes232864
Neshoba2189118
Panola218849
Marshall211950
Leflore203490
Pontotoc199128
Monroe196077
Sunflower191055
Lincoln187865
Warren174157
Tate166951
Union165325
Pike160958
Copiah160440
Yazoo152939
Scott151829
Itawamba151134
Coahoma149543
Pearl River149467
Alcorn148228
Simpson146353
Prentiss143730
Adams139250
Grenada138845
Leake133243
Holmes127861
Tippah123730
George123524
Covington120938
Winston120024
Hancock117639
Wayne116923
Marion114846
Attala111234
Tishomingo108742
Chickasaw106932
Newton104229
Tallahatchie96727
Clay89927
Clarke89153
Jasper81722
Walthall76028
Stone75214
Calhoun73713
Montgomery72825
Carroll71415
Lawrence70714
Yalobusha70527
Smith70316
Noxubee70017
Perry65826
Tunica60219
Greene59722
Claiborne57916
Jefferson Davis56017
Humphreys53119
Amite52714
Benton49017
Quitman4846
Webster42314
Kemper42118
Wilkinson38722
Jefferson34711
Franklin3345
Choctaw3157
Sharkey30817
Issaquena1144
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 241957

Reported Deaths: 3572
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson31809500
Mobile19651361
Madison12964148
Tuscaloosa12946154
Montgomery12263236
Shelby1016177
Baldwin857698
Lee771866
Morgan648050
Calhoun6215119
Etowah618266
Marshall618255
Houston522438
DeKalb480436
Cullman433442
Limestone418645
St. Clair413655
Elmore403764
Lauderdale396754
Walker3620111
Talladega347954
Jackson311723
Colbert306042
Blount287940
Autauga270442
Franklin250233
Coffee242015
Dale231754
Dallas225232
Russell22123
Chilton220638
Covington218034
Escambia197931
Chambers176450
Tallapoosa175491
Pike158114
Clarke157619
Marion137136
Winston131123
Lawrence126336
Pickens121618
Geneva12108
Marengo120224
Barbour117010
Bibb117017
Butler115341
Randolph101921
Cherokee101024
Hale96031
Clay91024
Washington90719
Fayette89316
Henry8526
Lowndes79429
Monroe78311
Cleburne76914
Macon73022
Crenshaw70930
Bullock69419
Conecuh68314
Perry6836
Lamar6678
Wilcox63118
Sumter57522
Greene42318
Choctaw42113
Coosa3414
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