Judge Amy Coney Barrett has now survived what was arguably the toughest two days of her Supreme Court confirmation hearings. Wednesday’s nine-hour session in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee must have felt like a walk in the park compared to Tuesday’s grueling 12-hour session. While the length of time spent in the cavernous and largely empty hearing room was shorter, the line of questioning was nearly identical. Wednesday was another day of softballs from the Republican senators and hardballs from the Democratic side.
If confirmed as expected, Barrett will tip the power of the Supreme Court to a 6-3 conservative majority. The appellate court judge has positioned herself as an originalist when it comes to the Constitution. While she has been adamant in her beliefs that the Constitution should be interpreted in a literal sense, she has also been equally certain of her ability to keep her personal views and religious leanings out of her legal opinions.
Democrats accused Barrett of dodging questions, while the judge from Indiana was emphatic that she could not provide conjecture on how she may rule in any particular cases. Barrett has staunchly defended her record of following the letter of the law as it was written without allowing her personal biases to seep into the narrative. She also spent a considerable amount of time explaining how she reads her opinions from the perspective of the person or idea that she is ruling against.
Issues of Contention – ACA: Throughout the two days of intense questioning, there were several issues that continued to make appearances. Front and center in the proceedings was the issue of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). While Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham tried to paint Barrett as being neutral at worst on the ACA, the Democratic committee members used their time behind the microphone to expound on the importance of this legislation in an effort to head off its possible revocation in November.
Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy pointed out that Barrett had once publicly criticized Chief Justice John Roberts for voting to uphold some parts of the ACA. Barrett defended this by saying that she was speaking only as an academic giving her opinion and not as a judge writing an opinion on public policy. Despite the push by the Democrats, Barrett remained firm in her assertion that she has no hidden agenda to overturn the ACA if appointed.
Election Fraud: Another issue getting plenty of attention was the matter of election fraud and voters’ rights. With the highly contentious national election less than three weeks away, Democrats are growing increasingly worried that election tampering or fraud may get in their way of emerging victorious.
Current Democratic vice presidential candidate and senator Kamala Harris took Barrett on about her views on voting rights. Harris referred to the fact that at least 23 states have passed voting laws that restrict the power of the ordinary voter while also trying to close polling places, remove names off of the voter rolls, and hinder early voting. Barrett minimized the effects of the voter infringement, raising concerns within the Democratic party that the judge will side with the conservatives should the outcome of the election fall into the hands of the Supreme Court.
Biden Weighs in on Hearings: Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden weighed in on the hearings on Wednesday during a campaign fundraising call. In the call, he accused President Donald Trump of trying to ram the confirmation through despite the fact that millions of Americans have already voted. The Democrats have been contending for weeks that the Senate needs to wait until after the election to proceed with the process of nominating a new justice to the court.
Biden also took the time to tell the donors on the call that this nomination could strip more than 100 million Americans of their healthcare. The Supreme Court is set to hear arguments on a challenge to the ACA on November 10. Ever since the passing of former Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Democrats have been accusing the Republicans of rushing through this nomination process solely to get a new conservative justice on the court in the hopes of overturning the ACA.
What is Next for Barrett: The Senate Judiciary Committee is now scheduled to take a preliminary vote on Thursday morning to proceed with the nomination process. Once the committee votes to send the nomination to the Senate floor, the Democrats can stall the process for up to one week. This is the only tool that the Democrats have to keep the vote from swiftly moving forward. While Barrett is not scheduled to appear for the fourth day of the hearings, the committee will meet to hear testimony from witnesses for and against the nomination.
It is most likely that the vote to confirm Barrett to the highest office in the land will come to fruition on October 29. It is expected that the GOP-controlled Senate will easily vote to confirm Barrett just days before the November 3 election.
If confirmed, Barrett would be Trump’s third appointee to the Supreme Court in the last four years.