Federal appeals courts Judge Amy Coney Barrett promised on Monday to rule fairly if elevated to the U.S. Supreme Court, as Republicans vowed to push Barrett’s nomination through in the next three weeks before Election Day.
“I believe Americans of all backgrounds deserve an independent Supreme Court,” Barrett said during her opening statement on Monday.
“A judge must apply the law as it is written, not as she wishes it were,” Barrett added, explaning that much of her philosophy is drawn from that of conservative legal icon, the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
“I believe deeply in the rule of law,” Barrett said in her testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The first day of confirmation hearings for Barrett began with opening statements from members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, as it did not take long for the partisan fault lines to open.
“This is going to be long, contentious week,” said chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
“There’s nothing unconstitutional about this process,” Graham added, even as he acknowledged some of the criticism from Democrats about the timing of this nomination.
“My Democratic colleagues will say this has never been done - and they’re right in this regard - nobody I think has ever been confirmed in an election year past July,” Graham said, as this is the closest a Supreme Court nomination has been considered to a presidential election since late July of 1888, 1892, and 1916.
Democrats used much of their time on Monday to criticize Barrett on her views regarding the Obama health law, and to argue that the process should wait until after the elections.
“We shouldn’t be holding a hearing three weeks from a presidential election,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT).
“I believe we should not be moving forward on this nomination, not until the election has ended, as the next President has taken office,” said ranking Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).
“This isn’t Donald Trump’s country. It is yours,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), speaking to voters. “This shouldn’t be Donald Trump’s judge. It should be yours.”
Democrats spent much of their time foreshadowing questions on the Affordable Care Act, noting that a quick confirmation would put Barrett on the court in time not only for the elections, but also for arguments in November on a case which could toss out the entire Obama health law.
“You’re on the record,” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) told Barrett, as Democratic Senators displayed poster boards with photos of various people who have been helped by the Obama health law.
For several hours, Barrett sat at attention at the witness table, listening to Senators of both parties, taking her black mask off before her testimony only to get a sip of water.
Her confirmation seems assured - if Republicans stick together before Election Day.