Se­nate votes to ad­vance Bar­rett

Repub­li­cans push her Supreme Court nom­i­na­tion to­ward con­fir­ma­tion de­spite ob­jec­tions.

Los Angeles Times - - FRONT PAGE -

WASH­ING­TON — Se­nate Repub­li­cans voted over­whelm­ingly Sun­day to ad­vance Supreme Court nom­i­nee Amy Coney Bar­rett to­ward f inal con­fir­ma­tion de­spite ob­jec­tions from Democrats, just over a week be­fore the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. The vote was 51 to 48.

Bar­rett’s con­fir­ma­tion on Mon­day was hardly in doubt, with ma­jor­ity Repub­li­cans mostly united in sup­port be­hind Pres­i­dent Trump’s pick.

But Democrats were poised to keep the Se­nate in ses­sion into the night in at­tempts to stall, ar­gu­ing that the win­ner of the Nov. 3 elec­tion should choose the nom­i­nee to fill the va­cancy left by the late Jus­tice Ruth Bader Gins­burg.

Repub­li­cans are ex­cited by the chance to in­stall a third Trump jus­tice on the court, lock­ing in a con­ser­va­tive ma­jor­ity for years to come. Bar­rett’s as­cent opens up a po­ten­tial era of

rul­ings on abor­tion, gay mar­riage and the Af­ford­able Care Act. A case against the Obama- era health law is slated to be heard Nov. 10.

Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence would typ­i­cally pre­side over the com­ing votes, but af­ter a close aide tested pos­i­tive for COVID- 19, it was un­clear whether he would ful­fill his role for the landmark vote.

The con­ser­va­tive judge picked up the cru­cial back­ing Satur­day of Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, one of the last GOP hold­outs

against fill­ing the seat in the midst of an elec­tion in which more than 50 mil­lion peo­ple have al­ready voted.

Murkowski said she dis­liked the rush to­ward con­fir­ma­tion but sup­ported Trump’s choice of Bar­rett for the high court.

“While I op­pose the process that has led us to this point, I do not hold it against her,” she said.

Now the only Repub­li­can ex­pected to vote against Bar­rett is Sen. Su­san Collins, who faces a tight re­elec­tion in Maine. She has said she won’t vote for the nom­i­nee so close to the elec­tion.

Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell ( R- Ky.) noted the po­lit­i­cal ran­cor but de­fended his han­dling of the process.

“Our re­cent de­bates have been heated, but cu­ri­ously, talk of Judge Bar­rett’s ac­tual cre­den­tials or qual­i­fi­ca­tions are hardly fea­tured,” McCon­nell said. He said she was one of the most “im­pres­sive” nom­i­nees for pub­lic of­fice “in a gen­er­a­tion.”

Call­ing the pro­ceed­ings a “sham,” Demo­cratic leader Sen. Charles E. Schumer of New York warned Repub­li­cans that the only way to re­move the “stain” of their ac­tion would be to “with­draw the nom­i­na­tion of Amy Coney Bar­rett un­til af­ter the elec­tion.”

Bar­rett, 48, pre­sented her­self in pub­lic tes­ti­mony be­fore the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee as a neu­tral ar­biter, at one point sug­gest­ing, “It’s not the law of Amy.” But Bar­rett’s past writ­ings against abor­tion and a rul­ing on Oba­macare show a deeply con­ser­va­tive thinker.

“She’s a con­ser­va­tive woman who em­braces her faith; she’s un­abashedly pro­life, but she’s not go­ing to ap­ply ‘ the law of Amy’ to all of us,” the com­mit­tee chair­man, Sen. Lind­sey Gra­ham ( R- S. C.), said late Satur­day on Fox.

At the start of Trump’s pres­i­dency, McCon­nell en­gi­neered a Se­nate rules change to al­low con­fir­ma­tion by a ma­jor­ity of the 100 sen­a­tors, rather than the 60vote thresh­old tra­di­tion­ally needed to ad­vance high court nom­i­nees over ob­jec­tions. With a 53- 47 GOP ma­jor­ity, Bar­rett’s con­fir­ma­tion is al­most cer­tain.

By push­ing for Bar­rett’s as­cen­sion so close to the elec­tion, Trump and his Repub­li­can al­lies are count­ing on a cam­paign boost — much the way they be­lieve McCon­nell’s re­fusal to al­low the Se­nate to con­sider Pres­i­dent Obama’s pick in Fe­bru­ary 2016, af­ter the death of Jus­tice An­tonin Scalia, cre­ated ex­cite­ment for Trump among con­ser­va­tives and evan­gel­i­cal Chris­tians who were ea­ger for a Repub­li­can pres­i­dent to make that nom­i­na­tion.

Bar­rett was a pro­fes­sor at Notre Dame Law School when she was tapped by Trump in 2017 for an ap­peals court open­ing. Two Democrats joined at that time to con­firm her, but none are ex­pected to vote for her in the days ahead.

J. Scott Ap­ple­white As­so­ci­ated Press

SE­NATE Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell ( R- Ky.) ar­rives Sun­day for the rare week­end ses­sion.

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