In an already heated election season, President Trump’s Supreme Court nomination of judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat remains a political flashpoint.
After the nomination was announced last month, the Republican-led Senate vowed to move swiftly to confirm Coney Barrett before Election Day. Democrats have pushed back, arguing that citizens should be given a say in how their country is represented on the highest court in the land by way of the presidential election. Their argument echoes comments made by Republicans in 2016, when they refused to consider President Obama’s Supreme Court pick, Merrick Garland, a full six months before the election.
Yet as the Senate and Senate Judiciary Committee wield the power of confirmation, Democrats can do very little to block the confirmation process—which according to Republicans, is imminent.
What’s the latest update?
Coney Barrett’s hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee took place last week, where she declined to indicate how she would rule on cases involving Roe v. Wade and the Affordable Care Act, and sidestepped questions on climate change. As expected, this Thursday the committee advanced Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Senate, with all 12 committee Republicans voting in her favor.
All 10 committee Democrats boycotted the voting session, in a move that captures the fraught politics surrounding the issue. In a statement this Wednesday, Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer said, “Republicans have moved at breakneck speed to jam through this nominee, ignoring her troubling record and unprecedented evasions, and breaking longstanding committee rules to set tomorrow’s vote. We will not grant this process any further legitimacy by participating in a committee markup of this nomination just 12 days before the culmination of an election that is already underway.”
The Democrats’ boycott is purely symbolic, with the party lacking majority voting power. Coney Barrett’s nomination will head to a Senate vote on Monday, where it’s expected to be confirmed.
Of the incoming victory, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said, “This is why we all run. It’s moments like this that make everything you go through matter.”
Could the election still make a difference?
While Coney Barrett will likely fill the seat next week, if Vice President Joe Biden wins in November, it’s been speculated that Democrats could use several tactics to rebalance the court’s 6-3 conservative majority, including court packing or court reform.