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Senate schedules Supreme Court hearings as Dems use COVID as newest excuse for delay

The Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has scheduled hearings for Amy Coney Barrett, the Trump nominee for the United States Supreme Court vacancy for Monday, Oct. 12 to Thursday, Oct. 15 according to a notice issued by the committee. However, Democrats have begun to complain.

Barrett, 48, was nominated to the Supreme Court after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Her nomination has caused Democrats to fear that the Trump-appointee could affect the decades-long liberal balance of the court, at a time that liberals are trying the most ambitious makeover of the country since the New Deal.

Democrats have also objected to the timing of the hearings, arguing that a hearing should wait until January 2021, after the presidential inauguration.

“The timeline is a sharp departure from past practice,” said a letter to Graham from Senate Democrats. “Even more, it undercuts the Senate’s ability to fulfill its advice and consent role and deprives the American people of a meaningful opportunity to gauge the nominee and her record for themselves.”   

Republicans are confident that they can get the nomination done before the election, mustering at least 51 votes in favor of Barrett.

“I’m very confident. I believe we have the votes. I believe we’ll get it done,” said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) during a Washington Post Live interview according to The Hill. “As I see it, we have a solid 51 votes right now. And from the conversations in the conference, I don’t see that changing.”

A vote on confirmation likely would not happen for two more weeks, as each senator will be given time to make a speech about their vote after the hearings conclude next week.

In the latest gambit to stop Senate approval of Barrett’s nomination, Democrats have charged that Barrett’s confirmation hearings could be unsafe because of COVID-19.

Committee members Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) have both tested positive for COVID-19 but should be out of quarantine by the time the hearings take place. Even so, senators are allowed to attend hearings virtually, although they are required to vote in person.

Republicans in the Senate have vowed to get the nomination approved quickly.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the attempt by Democrats to stop the nomination over COVID fears is “disingenuous.”

“It’s nonsense for Senate Democrats to turn on a dime and now pretend these procedures are somehow no longer workable,” McConnell said on the floor of the U.S. Senate yesterday.

“All of the parliamentary experts we talked to felt confident that no matter what shenanigans [Democrats] pulled that we would have sufficient time to get the job done by Election Day,” Cruz said.

One senator said he’d do whatever it takes to vote on the nomination, and vote safely.

“If we have to go in and vote, I’ve already told leadership I’ll go in a moon suit,” Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) told 630 KHOW, a Denver talk radio station.

PHOTO: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

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