Schumer, Feinstein Say Senate Should Not Proceed Confirmation Amid Virus Diagnosis

October 2, 2020 Updated: October 2, 2020

Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)  said the Senate should not proceed with the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, citing President Donald Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis.

They said it is “premature” for Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) “to commit to a hearing schedule when we do not know the full extent of potential exposure stemming from the president’s infection and before the White House puts in place a contact tracing plan to prevent further spread of the disease.”

“In addition, there is bipartisan agreement that a virtual confirmation hearing for a lifetime appointment to the federal bench is not an acceptable substitute,” the two said. “All circuit court nominees have appeared in person during the pandemic, and there is far more at stake for the American people with this Supreme Court nomination, including the Affordable Care Act being struck down and more than 7 million COVID survivors being denied health coverage.”

Their statement also noted that Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) contracted the virus after he confirmed it via Twitter earlier on Friday.

Graham and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have both indicated they will go ahead with Barrett’s nomination in light of Trump’s diagnosis.

But the two said that “it’s critical that Chairman Graham put the health of senators, the nominee and staff first—and ensure a full and fair hearing that is not rushed, not truncated, and not virtual. Otherwise this already illegitimate process will become a dangerous one.”

Since the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death in mid-September, Democrats have said they will try numerous options to block the confirmation of President Trump’s Supreme Court pick, saying that the winner of the next election should decide who replaces Ginsburg.

It came after McConnell told reporters that the nomination is “on track” as scheduled and will start on Oct. 12

“I talked to President Trump this morning. … First thing I asked him about was the First Lady. She’s doing good. The President was in good spirits. The first thing he asked me is how’s the hearings going? I said we’re on track. We’re going to start October the 12th,” Graham also told reporters.

He noted that “we’re going to work hard to get this wonderful conservative young lady talented beyond belief, Amy Barrett, on the Supreme Court,” saying that Trump told him he has no symptoms and is “very focused on getting” Barrett to the Supreme Court.

Trump and First Lady Melania Trump both confirmed their diagnoses overnight.