UPDATE VIA 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.
ORIGINAL ARTICLE: (Headline USA) Despite a Democrat boycott, Republicans are powering ahead to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court by Election Day with the Senate Judiciary Committee set to recommend President Donald Trump‘s nominee to the full Senate.
Never before has the Senate confirmed a Supreme Court pick so close to a presidential election. Thursday’s Judiciary Committee vote is expected to launch a rare weekend Senate session to push Barrett’s nomination forward, as millions of Americans are casting early ballots.
Senate Democrats plan to boycott Thursday’s meeting. But the Republican majority is prepared to vote swiftly, changing the panel’s rules if necessary, to ensure Trump’s choice to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is on track.
“Judge Barrett deserves a vote and she will receive a vote,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., the committee chairman, in a statement. “Barrett deserves to be on the Supreme Court and she will be confirmed.”
Trump’s Republican allies in the Senate are counting on the 48-year-old federal judge’s ascent to the high court to improve their standing with voters, as shift the court in a more conservative direction, they hope. The court could open a new era of rulings on the Affordable Care Act, abortion access and even the results of the presidential election. A final Senate confirmation vote on Barrett is expected Monday.
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 tried 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, without offering any evidence.
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 committee hearing won’t stop the process, but could potentially force Republicans on the panel to alter the rules to keep the confirmation on track.
Committee 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 if Democrats skip it. He said the longstanding practice has been to allow business to go forward if all members of the majority, Republicans, attend.
Barrett is not expected to be present at Thursday’s session. The appellate court judge from Indiana appeared for three days before the panel last week, batting back 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, as leaving the court with an even number of justices without a deciding vote could create further chaos.
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.
Senate Majority Leader McConnell has defended Barrett as “exceptionally qualified” as well as his own decision to push her nomination forward.
Adapted from reporting by Associated Press.