Senate Judiciary sets Oct. 22 vote on Barrett's nomination

Judge Amy Coney Barrett

The Senate Judiciary Committee has set an Oct. 22 vote on recommending approval of Amy Coney Barrett's Supreme Court nomination.

Posted: Oct 15, 2020 8:44 AM
Updated: Oct 15, 2020 8:48 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday set an Oct. 22 vote on Amy Coney Barrett's Supreme Court nomination as Republicans race to confirm President Donald Trump's pick before the Nov. 3 election.

The session is without Barrett after two long days of public testimony in which she stressed that she would be her own judge and sought to create distance between herself and past positions critical of abortion, the Affordable Care Act and other issues.

Her confirmation to take the seat of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg seems inevitable, as even some Senate Democrats acknowledged.

Sen, Lindsey Graham pushed past Democratic objections to set the panel's Oct. 22 vote on recommending her confirmation even before final witnesses testify before and against her nomination. The committee set the vote for next week.

“This is a sham," said Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.

In the minority, Democrats acknowledge there is little they can do stop them from locking a conservative majority on the court for years to come. The shift would cement a 6-3 conservative majority on the court and would be the most pronounced ideological change in 30 years, from the liberal icon to the conservative appeals court judge.

Facing almost 20 hours of questions from senators, the 48-year-old judge was careful not to take on the president who nominated her and sought to separate herself from writings on controversial subjects when she was an academic. She skipped past Democrats’ pressing questions about ensuring the date of next month's election or preventing voter intimidation, both set in federal law, and the peaceful transfer of presidential power.

She also refused to express her view on whether the president can pardon himself. “It’s not one that I can offer a view," she said in response to a question Wednesday from Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont.

Democrats raised those questions because President Donald Trump has done so himself.

When it came to major issues that are likely to come before the court, including abortion and health care, Barrett repeatedly promised to keep an open mind and said neither Trump nor anyone else in the White House had tried to influence her views.

“No one has elicited from me any commitment in a case," she said.

Nominees typically resist offering any more information than they have to, especially when the president’s party controls the Senate, as it does now. But Barrett wouldn’t engage on topics that seemed easy to swat away, including that only Congress can change the date that the election takes place.

She said she is not on a “mission to destroy the Affordable Care Act,” though she has been critical of the two Supreme Court decisions that preserved key parts of the Obama-era health care law. She could be on the court when it hears the latest Republican-led challenge on Nov. 10.

Barrett is the most open opponent of abortion nominated to the Supreme Court in decades, and Democrats fear that her ascension could be a tipping point that threatens abortion rights.

There was no hiding her views in at least three letters and ads she signed over 15 years and her membership in Notre Dame’s Faculty for Life. So Republican senators embraced her stance, proudly stating that she was, in Graham's words, an “unashamedly pro-life” conservative who is making history as a role model for other women.

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., said there “is nothing wrong with confirming a devout pro-life Christian.”

Barrett refused to say whether the 1973 landmark Roe v. Wade ruling on abortion rights was correctly decided, though she signed an open letter seven years ago that called the decision “infamous.”

Democrats pressed repeatedly on the judge’s approach to health care, abortion, racial equity and voting rights, but conceded they were unlikely to stop her quick confirmation.

“When you are on the court,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., began one question in which he asked her to keep an open mind on the high court bench. Barrett readily agreed to do so.

In an exchange with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Barrett resisted the invitation to explicitly endorse or reject the late Justice Antonin Scalia's comments about perpetuating “racial entitlement” in a key voting rights case.

“When I said that Justice Scalia’s philosophy is mine, too, I certainly didn’t mean to say that every sentence that came out of Justice Scalia’s mouth or every sentence that he wrote is one that I would agree with,” Barrett said.

She called the Voting Rights Act a “triumph in the civil rights movement,” without discussing the specifics of the earlier challenge to it. The court will hear another challenge to the law early next year.

One of the more dramatic moments came late Wednesday when Barrett told California Sen. Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice presidential nominee, that she wouldn't say whether racial discrimination in voting still exists nor express a view on climate change.

Harris asked if she agreed with Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote in a 2013 voting rights case that “voting discrimination still exists; no one doubts that.”

Barrett said she would “not comment on what any justice said in an opinion.”

Asked whether “climate change is happening,” Barrett said she wouldn't engage because it is “a very contentious matter of public debate.” Barrett did, however, say she believes the novel coronavirus is infectious and that smoking causes cancer.

Along with trying to undo the health care law, Trump has publicly stated he wants a justice seated for any disputes arising from the election, and particularly the surge of mail-in ballots expected during the pandemic as voters prefer to vote by mail.

Barrett testified she has not spoken to Trump or his team about election cases, and declined to commit to recusing herself from any post-election cases.

She did describe what the role of the court would be if it were asked to intervene. "Certainly the court would not see itself -- and would not be -- electing the president. It would be applying laws that are designed to protect the election and protect the right to vote,” Barrett said.

In 2000, the court's decision in Bush v. Gore brought a Florida recount to a halt, effectively deciding the election in George W. Bush's favor. Barrett was on Bush's legal team in 2000, in a minor role.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 115088

Reported Deaths: 3255
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7973177
DeSoto703979
Harrison522384
Jackson457884
Rankin394086
Madison383194
Lee357380
Forrest304678
Jones292484
Washington258399
Lafayette250443
Lauderdale2478135
Lamar225538
Oktibbeha202454
Bolivar201677
Neshoba1849111
Lowndes179962
Panola170040
Leflore167187
Sunflower162349
Warren154855
Monroe150673
Pontotoc147220
Marshall143129
Lincoln140157
Pike138456
Copiah137536
Scott125429
Coahoma124937
Grenada122638
Yazoo122234
Simpson121549
Union118825
Tate116839
Leake115041
Holmes114760
Itawamba113925
Pearl River113660
Adams108544
Prentiss106120
Wayne101722
Alcorn100112
George99218
Covington97527
Marion95042
Tippah90322
Newton86627
Chickasaw85526
Tallahatchie84526
Winston84121
Hancock84028
Tishomingo81241
Attala79426
Clarke75851
Clay69321
Jasper68717
Walthall63927
Calhoun62612
Noxubee59817
Smith59416
Montgomery54923
Yalobusha54514
Claiborne53716
Tunica53517
Lawrence51814
Perry49423
Carroll49312
Greene47818
Stone47514
Humphreys43816
Amite42513
Quitman4206
Jefferson Davis41011
Webster37613
Benton3416
Wilkinson33820
Kemper32615
Sharkey28514
Jefferson27610
Franklin2423
Choctaw2086
Issaquena1074
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 155915

Reported Deaths: 2674
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson23129377
Mobile16849315
Tuscaloosa10296140
Montgomery10197197
Madison928096
Shelby733863
Baldwin663769
Lee653465
Calhoun456761
Marshall438150
Etowah426551
Houston414834
Morgan412035
DeKalb338829
Elmore320053
St. Clair292542
Limestone284230
Walker277292
Talladega265335
Cullman244024
Lauderdale226242
Jackson214915
Franklin205231
Autauga204831
Colbert200532
Russell19443
Blount192525
Chilton186932
Dallas186527
Coffee176311
Dale175151
Covington174029
Escambia172530
Chambers135044
Clarke134317
Pike133513
Tallapoosa131787
Marion107629
Barbour10319
Marengo100822
Butler100740
Winston92213
Geneva9007
Lawrence85032
Pickens84718
Bibb82814
Randolph82316
Hale76730
Washington74412
Clay74112
Cherokee73314
Lowndes70928
Henry7086
Bullock64817
Monroe64610
Crenshaw60630
Perry5896
Fayette57413
Wilcox56712
Conecuh56113
Cleburne5568
Macon53420
Lamar4905
Sumter47221
Choctaw39012
Greene34216
Coosa2033
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