Senate Democrats have signaled that they will be boycotting a Thursday committee vote to advance the Supreme Court confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett.
In a statement released Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee said that they “will not grant … any further legitimacy” to Barrett’s Supreme Court confirmation.
Democrats are instead expected to hold two press conferences on the day of the planned committee vote, reported The Hill.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) had set the panel’s vote to approve Barrett’s nomination for Oct. 22, after which it will be sent to the Senate floor. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said that the Senate will be voting on Oct. 23 with a final vote scheduled for Oct. 26.
Senate Democrats oppose Barrett’s confirmation ahead of the Nov. 3 election.
“This has been a sham process from the beginning,” Schumer and other Democrats said in their statement, accusing Republicans of “rushing to confirm a Supreme Court Justice,” to “take away health care from millions.” They alleged that Barrett could cause “damage” to “health care, reproductive freedoms, the ability to vote, and other core rights that Americans cherish.”
Barrett was questioned on two of four days of confirmation hearings Oct. 12-15 by members of the committee about her views on a range of issues that included abortion, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), voting rights, climate change, and LGBTQ rights. She largely refused to express her personal views by invoking precedents and rules governing judicial conduct.
“Fearing a loss at the ballot box, Republicans are showing that they do not care about the rules or what the American people want, but are concerned only with raw political power,” Democrats said in their statement.
They also argued, “Republicans broke the promises they made and rules they created when they blocked Merrick Garland’s nomination for eight months under President Obama.
“Then, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that ‘the American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice.’
“Now, Republicans have moved at breakneck speed to jam through this nominee, ignoring her troubling record and unprecedented evasions, and breaking longstanding committee rules to set tomorrow’s vote.”
Judiciary Committee rules stipulate that 12 members have to be present to bring a matter to a floor vote, and that two people from the minority party need to be present “for the purpose of transacting business.” Republicans can meet the first requirement on their own if every Republican senator is present. However the latter rule would require the presence of at least two Democrats.
Graham told reporters on Wednesday that he will be holding a vote regardless of whether Democratic senators come, reported The Hill. Late Wednesday, he responded to news of the planned boycott on Twitter, determined to have the confirmation vote go ahead.
“Judge Barrett deserves a vote and she will receive a vote,” he wrote. “Judge Barrett deserves to be reported out of committee and she will be reported out of committee. Judge Barrett deserves to be on the Supreme Court and she will be confirmed.”
“Judge Barrett is one of the most prepared people to have ever been nominated for the Supreme Court. America will be fortunate to have her as a member of the highest court in the land,” he added. “As to my Democratic colleagues’ refusal to attend the markup, that is a choice they are making. I believe it does a disservice to Judge Barrett who deserves a vote, up or down.”
Schumer had said on the Senate floor late Wednesday, “We should not be moving forward on this nomination,” calling Barrett’s views “so far out of the mainstream.” He then tried to force a vote to adjourn the Senate until after the Nov. 3 election but it failed, a repeat of a similar attempt on the day prior.
Sen. Kelly Loeffer (R-Ga.), following a vote that shot down Schumer’s attempt to adjourn the Senate, told the floor that she is “not the only one who is proud” to support Barrett’s confirmation to fill the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat before the Nov. 3 election.
“Judge Barrett is a woman of remarkable intellect and character, with a judicial philosophy of originalism and as a textualist, she understands and respects the court’s role to interpret the law as written. As such, I believe Judge Barrett will uphold the constitution and protect our god-given rights, including the right to life, the second amendment, free speech, and religious liberty,” she said.
“The need for judges who will uphold the intent of the framers is especially clear when the left is showing their disregard for our constitution. … That’s why it’s concerning that Democrats are fighting so hard to oppose an imminently qualified nominee.”
She added, “Unable to criticize Judge Barrett’s sterling credentials, they have resorted to scare tactics claiming she will take away health care coverage. At her confirmation hearing, Judge Barrett put those left-wing talking points to rest saying, and I quote, ‘it is never appropriate for a judge to impose that judge’s personal convictions whether they derive from faith or anywhere else on the law,’ end quote.
“These accusations make clear that there’s little Democrats fear more than strong conservative women. I know firsthand what it is like to step into public service and then be attacked by the left and the fake news. There’s a playbook for trying to stop conservative women and their place in public service.”
“Judge Barrett’s commitment to the rule of law and equal justice are clear from her writings, decisions, and testimony … I’m so grateful that Judge Barrett has accepted the call to serve our country. President trump could not have chosen a more qualified, impressive jurist than Judge Barrett. And I will be honored to vote to confirm her as the next United States supreme court justice.”
Janita Kan contributed to this report.