The confirmation hearing for President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett will begin next Monday as planned, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has announced.
“Judge Barrett’s hearings will begin one week from today. Chairman Graham has all the tools to conduct a hybrid hearing, just like the 150 others the Senate has held this year,” McConnell said on Twitter Monday. “We will not stop working for the American people because Democrats are afraid they may lose a vote.”
Republican Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham of South Carolina previously announced that the hearing to consider the nomination of Barrett to serve as an associate justice on the Supreme Court of the United States would begin on Oct. 12. It is expected to last three to four days, using the format the committee has followed for recent Supreme Court nominees.
Opening statements by Judiciary Committee members and the nominee will be delivered on Oct. 12, while Barrett’s questioning will begin on Oct. 13. Testimony by those who know Barrett the best and legal experts is expected to follow.
Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called for the hearing to be postponed due to a coronavirus outbreak which infected multiple people in the White House including the president and First Lady Melania Trump as well as three Republican senators.
The sources of the coronavirus outbreak is suspected of stemming from a Sept. 26 event in the White House Rose Garden where the president formally announced his nomination of Barrett.
“Three senators have already tested positive for COVID and we do not yet know the full extent of exposure or infection among senators or Capitol Hill staff,” Schumer argued in a statement Sunday. “As we continue to learn of additional colleagues testing positive for COVID-19, it is increasingly clear that rushing Amy Coney Barrett’s hearing forward in the midst of a COVID outbreak in the White House and Senate would turn an illegitimate process into a reckless and dangerous one. At the same time, there has been bipartisan agreement that remote hearings for lifetime appointments to higher federal courts is absolutely insufficient to allow for the necessary meaningful and thorough review of nominees and it should go without saying that this is doubly true for a nominee to the Supreme Court.”
If Barrett gets Senate confirmation, the conservatives would purportedly have a reliable majority (6-3) on the court for the first time in decades. Chief Justice John Roberts, however, who was nominated by former President George W. Bush, has sided with leftists on the court in many cases. Justice Neil Gorsuch has similarly sided with the left on cases, as has Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
Upcoming cases the court will be deciding on include abortion, presidential powers, and a case against the Affordable Care Act.
“Judge Barrett’s confirmation would lead to the end of the Affordable Care Act, during a pandemic, while tens of thousands of Americans are being diagnosed with COVID-19 each day,” Schumer argued.
“As the virus continues to run rampant – and the 7 million Americans who survived the disease have a lifetime pre-existing condition – rushing a nominee onto the Court who will rip insurance away from 20 million Americans when they need it most, while simultaneously stripping pre-existing condition protections for 130 million citizens, only adds insult to injury. It’s critical we hold a full and fair hearing that is not rushed, not truncated, and not virtual. The health of the American people, as well as Senators, staff and the Nominee depend on it,” Schumer argued.