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Senate Judiciary sends Amy Coney Barrett nomination to the floor with no Democratic votes

Confirmation on track for Monday vote

Democratic senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee boycott the committee vote on Amy Coney Barrett to serve as an associate justice on the Supreme Court of the United States during a Senate Judiciary Committee Executive Business meeting in Washington on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020.
Democratic senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee boycott the committee vote on Amy Coney Barrett to serve as an associate justice on the Supreme Court of the United States during a Senate Judiciary Committee Executive Business meeting in Washington on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced the Supreme Court nomination of Amy Coney Barrett on Thursday as the panel’s Democrats boycotted the hearing, setting up a final confirmation vote on the Senate floor as early as Monday.

The 12 Republicans on the committee voted to report Barrett’s nomination favorably to the Senate floor, while Democrats did not vote because they were absent.

“We did it. We did it. Judge Barrett is going to the floor,” Chairman Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said to the Republicans there. “I hope you look back on this time on the committee and say, ‘I was there when it mattered.’ And you were.”

Instead of attending, committee Democrats set up large photos on their chairs of constituents they say will be harmed if Barrett is confirmed.

They have accused Republicans of violating panel rules in a rush to complete the process in time for Supreme Court oral arguments Nov. 10 in a case where the Trump administration is asking the justices to wipe out the full 2010 health care law.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York, in a press conference after the vote flanked by Democratic committee members, repeatedly called the confirmation process illegitimate.

“Democrats will not lend a single ounce of legitimacy to this sham vote in the Judiciary Committee,” Schumer said. “We are voting with our feet. We are standing together, and we are standing against this unprecedented mad rush to jam through a Supreme Court nomination just days, days, before an election.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the panel’s top Democrat, said her party’s members attended the confirmations hearings to show what they thought the consequences would be on abortion rights and health care coverage if Barrett is confirmed. But they did not have the votes to defeat Barrett in committee.

“At that point, there was no further reason to participate in a committee process that has been used to rush this nominee forward,” Feinstein said.

In the committee meeting, Graham blamed Democrats for starting the Senate down a procedural path on judicial nominees over the years that led to this vote.

“We’re not going to allow them to take over the committee,” Graham said. “They made a choice not to participate.”

And Graham, in the middle of a close reelection campaign, told Republicans on the committee that moments like this make it worth it.

“It’s moments like this, where you can tell young conservative women, ‘There’s a place at the table for you,’” Graham said. “This is a groundbreaking, historic moment for American legal community and, really, politically.”

Graham praised the qualifications and solidly conservative legal approach of Barrett, who spent 16 years as a legal academic before President Donald Trump appointed her to a federal appeals court in 2017.

“I’ve been here a while, and I’ve never seen anyone more capable than Judge Barrett on the law,” Graham said. “I can tell you this, the law of Amy will not be applied to the case and controversy, it will be the law as written in the Constitution, or by statute, or whatever regulatory body she’s going to review. She will take her job on without agenda.”

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