Baltimore Sun

Se­nate panel to vote next week on Bar­rett’s nom­i­na­tion

- US Elections · U.S. News · US Politics · Discrimination · Politics · Elections · Human Rights · Society · Washington · Amy Coney Barrett · U.S. Supreme Court · Senate Judiciary Committee · Republican Party (United States) · Democratic Party (United States) · Donald Trump · Amy Klobuchar · Minnesota · Dick Durbin · Illinois · Christopher A. Coons · Delaware · Ruth Bader Ginsburg · American Bar Association · American Bar Association · Clarence Thomas · White House · George H. W. Bush · George W. Bush · John Cornyn · Thomas B. Griffith

WASH­ING­TON — Judge Amy Coney Bar­rett’s Supreme Court nom­i­na­tion cleared a key hur­dle Thurs­day as Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee Repub­li­cans pow­ered past Democrats’ ob­jec­tions in the drive to con­firm Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s pick be­fore the Nov. 3 elec­tion.

The panel set Oct. 22 for its vote to rec­om­mend Bar­rett’s nom­i­na­tion to the full Se­nate for a fi­nal vote by month’s end.

“A sham,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. “Not nor­mal,” said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.

“You don’t con­vene a Supreme Court con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing, in the mid­dle of a pan­demic, when the Se­nate’s on re­cess, when vot­ing has al­ready started in the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion in a ma­jor­ity of states,” Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., said.

But Repub­li­cans coun­tered that Trump is well within bounds as pres­i­dent to fill the va­cancy, and the GOP-held Se­nate has the votes to push Trump’s nom­i­nee to con­fir­ma­tion.

Sen. John Cornyn, RTexas, said the Democrats’ “loss is the Amer­i­can peo­ple’s gain.”

Bar­rett’s con­fir­ma­tion to take the seat of the late Jus­tice Ruth Bader Gins­burg is poised to lock a con­ser­va­tive ma­jor­ity on the court for years to come. The shift would ce­ment a 6-3 court in the most pro­nounced i de­o­log­i­cal change in 30 years, from the liberal icon to the con­ser­va­tive ap­peals court judge.

The com­mit­tee’s ses­sion Thurs­day was with­out Bar­rett af­ter two days of pub­lic tes­ti­mony in which she stressed that she would be her own judge and sought to cre­ate dis­tance be­tween her­self and past po­si­tions crit­i­cal of abor­tion, the Af­ford­able Care Act and other is­sues.

In­stead, out­side wit­nesses tes­ti­fied, in­clud­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Amer­i­can Bar As­so­ci­a­tion’s stand­ing com­mit­tee that gave Bar­rett its high­est “well qual­i­fied” rat­ing — but not unan­i­mously. Bar­rett is the first high court nom­i­nee since Jus­tice Clarence Thomas not to earn a unan­i­mous rat­ing.

Kris­ten Clarke, pres­i­dent of the Lawyers Com­mit­tee on Civil Rights op­pos­ing Bar­rett’s nom­i­na­tion, said the judge’s un­will­ing­ness t o speak force­fully for the Vot­ing Rights Act should “sound an alarm” for Amer­i­cans with a case head­ing to the high court.

But re­tired ap­pel­late court Judge Thomas Grif­fith as­sured Bar­rett is among jus­tices who “can and do put aside party and pol­i­tics.”

Fac­ing al­most 20 hours of ques­tions from se­na­tors, Bar­rett was care­ful not to take on the pres­i­dent who nom­i­nated her.

Bar­rett, 48, skipped past Democrats’ ques­tions about en­sur­ing the date of next month’s elec­tion or pre­vent­ing voter in­tim­i­da­tion, and the peace­ful trans­fer of pres­i­den­tial power. She also re­fused to ex­press her view on whether the pres­i­dent can par­don him­self.

When it came to ma­jor is­sues that are likely to come be­fore the court, in­clud­ing abor­tion and health care, Bar­rett re­peat­edly promised to keep an open mind and said nei­ther Trump nor any­one else in the White House had tried to in­flu­ence her views.

Bar­rett tes­ti­fied she has not spo­ken to Trump or his team about elec­tion cases, and de­clined to com­mit to re­cus­ing her­self from any post-elec­tion cases.

In 2000, the court’s de­ci­sion in Bush v. Gore brought a Florida re­count to a halt, ef­fec­tively de­cid­ing the elec­tion in Ge­orge W. Bush’s fa­vor. Bar­rett had a mi­nor role on Bush’s le­gal team in 2000.

 ?? BILL O’LEARY/GETTY ?? Sen. Dick Durbin, right, ques­tions a wit­ness be­fore the Se­nate com­mit­tee Thurs­day.
BILL O’LEARY/GETTY Sen. Dick Durbin, right, ques­tions a wit­ness be­fore the Se­nate com­mit­tee Thurs­day.

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