A group of state attorneys general are urging the Senate to immediately hold a hearing and vote to confirm the nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.
President Donald Trump on Sept. 26 had announced the nomination for Barrett to fill the seat vacated by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg—just over a month before the Nov. 3 presidential election.
Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry on Thursday led a group of 22 state attorneys generals to push the Senate for a confirmation hearing and vote.
In a statement, Landry said that he and his colleagues are “calling on the Senate to fulfill its duty to the American people and immediately vote to confirm Amy Coney Barrett.”
“A Metairie native and St. Mary’s Dominican High School alumna, Judge Barrett embodies our State’s values and respect for the rule of law,” he said.
In the letter (pdf) addressed to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the coalition of attorneys general emphasized that Barrett “has the qualifications, experience, and judicial philosophy to be an outstanding Associate Justice.”
“Judge Barrett is a distinguished legal scholar and an exceptional appellate judge with a track record of interpreting the Constitution according to its text and original public meaning,” they wrote.
The group detailed Judge Barrett’s background, including how Barrett had earned a full-tuition scholarship to attend Notre Dame Law School where she graduated at the top of her class.
Barrett also clerked for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, and served as a law professor for fifteen years where she “gained a reputation as a leading constitutional law expert and a prolific scholar,” the group noted, adding that she has since been serving “with distinction” as an appeals court judge for the 7th Circuit.
They also noted how Barrett had widespread support among her colleagues and students from Notre Dame, and how she received bipartisan support over her nomination to the 7th Circuit.
“As impressive as her background is Judge Barrett’s unwavering commitment to a judicial philosophy that prioritizes restraint, humility, and respect for the rule of law,” Landry and his colleagues told the Senate leadership.
They drew attention to Barrett’s remarks at her nomination to the 7th Circuit in 2017 where she said that it is not the role of judges to “impose [their] own personal convictions upon the law.”
The coalition acknowledged that there have been a concern voiced by some that senators “will not have enough time to adequately consider” Barrett’s qualifications ahead of the election. But they refuted the concern, saying, “History and precedent show that to be untrue.” They noted how Ginsburg was confirmed 42 days after she was nominated, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was confirmed 33 days after she was nominated, and Justice John Paul Stevens was confirmed 19 days after he was nominated.
The group asserted that Trump and the Senate are well-positioned to nominate and hold a vote and hearing on the Supreme Court Justice nominee, quoting from a 2016 letter that the Attorneys General of California, New York, and 17 other states sent to the Senate, which said: “The Constitution clearly sets out the process for filling a Supreme Court vacancy. The President has a duty to make a nomination.”
The letter also said that the Senate then “has the responsibility to consider and approve or disapprove the nomination,” and that such a process is “the law and it should be followed.”
Landry signed the letter with fellow attorneys general of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Graham announced on Sept. 27 that the confirmation hearings for Barrett will begin on Oct. 12, and begin the first round of questions for the judge on Oct. 13, followed by testimony by people who know Barrett. The hearings will last an anticipated three to four days.
Senate Majority Leader McConnell has said Trump’s nominee will get a vote on the Senate floor this year, though he hasn’t committed to a vote before the election. As part of the Senate’s vetting process, Barrett began meeting with senators on Sept. 29.
Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Feinstein and number of other Democrats on Wednesday formally called on the Senate to delay consideration of Barrett’s nomination “until after the presidential inauguration.” She alleged that “timeline for consideration of Judge Barrett’s nomination is incompatible with the Senate’s constitutional role.”
If confirmed, Barrett would further tilt the Supreme Court in favor of conservatives, giving them a 6–3 advantage on the nine-member court. The confirmation could have far-reaching implications on issues such as abortion, Obamacare, gun rights, and challenges to the result of the 2020 election.
Emel Akan and Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.