On Thursday, October 22, 2020, Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court – she’ll inherit the seat vacated by the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg – cleared one of its last hurdles. The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 12-0 (the ten Democrats on the committee boycotted the vote) to elevate the 48-year-old 7th circuit judge’s confirmation vote to the full Senate.
The Republican’s aggressive leveraging of their majority in the upper chamber is stirring up some controversy.
The Senate Judiciary Committee consists of a 22 member panel. The GOP owns a 12-10 majority.
It just so happens that 12 votes is the exact number you need to advance the confirmation to the final stage before the full Senate.
However, the committee’s rules state that for a 12-10 vote to pass, at least two of the “yeas” must be from the minority party.
Except all that’s required to change such a rule is a 12-vote majority, which can be along party lines — and that’s precisely what happened!.
Left without many feasible options to halt the Senate Republicans’ high-speed confirmation – save some longshot procedural shenanigans that could potentially obstruct the process – the ten Democrats on the Senate Judicial Committee abstained from participating, choosing to boycott the panel hearing in protest.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democratic Senator from Connecticut, called the process a “sham” and fought for the nomination proceedings to be postponed “indefinitely” during the fourth and final day of Barrett’s confirmation hearings.
“In your hearts, you know that what’s happening here is not right. It’s not normal,” Blumenthal argued in a desperate – and ultimately, failed — attempt to appeal to Republican committee members’ sense of fairness and historical precedent.
Next Supreme Court Justice Confirmation Date
- Matchup Odds
- Before November 4th, 2020 -3000
- After November 4th, 2020 +900
Political betting sites have been accepting action on the Supreme Court nomination process since the passing of RBG.
Bovada’s oddsmakers, in the site’s political props section, offered betting odds on the official date of Amy Coney Barrett’s official confirmation.
- From early on, they saw the Republicans successfully ramming through this nomination at record speeds, setting the line for “Before November 4, 2020” at a whopping –3000.
- For the nomination to occur after November 4, Democrats must get creative and find a way to grind the final steps of ACB’s confirmation process to a halt. However, all signs point to McConnell having the votes to continue ramming the nomination through, no matter what his party rivals try to do.
That will trigger several days of debate, which should take place this weekend.
Assuming the Majority Leader continues to expedite the nomination to the furthest degree possible, the Senate is expected to hold the final vote to confirm the conservative Supreme Court nominee on Monday – a full week-and-a-half before November 4!
Amy Coney Barrett’s Confirmation Hearings
Before the Senate Judicial Committee took a vote to move things forward, the upper chamber of Congress held three days of hearings, during which Judge Barrett fielded a never-ending volley of questions.
- how she interprets the constitution,
- the reasoning behind some of her past rulings,
- inquiries testing her knowledge of different legal concepts,
- and everything in between.
Democrats in the Senate wanted Barrett to clarify where she stands on multiple hot-button legal issues like abortion rights, health care, and the presidential election.
Much to their chagrin, Judge Barrett could not be flustered, pinned down, or forced to provide straight answers.
This approach is consistent with modern Supreme Court confirmation hearings, with nominees mostly refusing to respond to questions directly.
According to judicial ethics rules, judges should not offer “hints, previews, or forecasts” on any issue that may come before them to protect from impartiality and give everyone a fair, unbiased hearing.
That ruled out questions about how she might rule on various cases or how her personal preferences could influence her future decision-making on the bench.
After Judge Barrett’s three days of grilling, the Senate Judicial Committee heard testimonies from a selection of advocates, former colleagues, and the American Bar Association, which detailed the former law professor and 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge’s qualifications to sit on the Supreme Court.
In addition to question witnesses called by Senate Republicans and Democrats alike, members of the panel shared personal accounts – some telling stories of the nominee’s dedication and character; others made emotional pleas in opposition to a Barrett nomination.
Not bound by the same ethics restraints that prevented her from giving direct answers to specific policy questions, the testimonies from the witness on day four provided better insight into how the newest Justice would rule on critical decisions if confirmed.
Amy Coney Barrett’s former law clerk Amanda Rauh-Bieri described her former employer as “a sharp legal mind” and a “brilliant thinker,” who “would be a role model for generations to come.”
“Judge Barrett is dedicated and disciplined and as a judge, she is committed above all else to the rule of law,” Rauh-Bieri told the panel of senators.
Democrats Sense Danger if ACB’s Nominated
Witnesses called to testify on behalf of the Democrats expounded on the danger a Barrett nomination would pose to critical issues for liberals, like the Affordable Care Act, voting rights, and a woman’s right to an abortion.
The 7th Circuit Court judge would give conservatives a 6-3 majority on the Court, representing a significant risk to key precedents like Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
Stacy Staggs, a mother to a set of seven-year-old twins, born prematurely, testified that she depends on the Affordable Care Act to provide her children medical coverage. “A vote for Judge Barrett is a vote to take away health care” and cancel “the law that saved the lives of my daughters,” she said.
The medical director of Care Free Medical clinic in Michigan, Dr. Farhan Bhatti, also testified the Affordable Care Act’s importance. Bhatti argued that “any judge who opposes the ACA endangers a lifeline that my patients count on to stay healthy.”
Prediction: Expect Confirmation
If you tuned into Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings — with a relatively discerning eye — you probably realized pretty early on that the entire ordeal was political theater.
Democrats knew there was nothing they could do to prevent her nomination, nor did they want to.
Some of the younger and/or more progressive members of Congress may oppose the conservative Catholic being elevated to the Supreme Court – particularly in an election year when the incumbent is probably on his way out – but the old-school establishment centrists gave up the game.
Senate Democrats mostly used the hearings as an excuse to campaign and grandstand. One after another poured on the theatrics, performing for their supporters with passionate speeches on topics over which Amy Coney Barrett will have no control unless they’re brought before the Supreme Court. Still, the attacks were frequently framed as if the Justices create policies.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein awoke the liberal viewers.
They hadn’t already figured out they were watching misdirection — Democrats supplying fake resistance while the Republicans rammed through a nominee with which almost everyone was secretly happy.
In reality, the political elite of both parties benefit from maintaining the status quo. They aren’t as scared about 6-3 majorities or challenges to abortion rights and the ACA as they let on.
Those highly polarizing issues are the focal points of the national debate because they elicit emotion and keep the left-right paradigm alive.
Forget about her religious beliefs; what makes Amy Coney Barrett terrifying is her authoritarian leanings.
During her time as a judge, she’s consistently ruled for the powerful, whether it’s multi-national corporations, the wealthy, or the government.
Working-class Republicans love Barrett because publicly, it appears that liberals are having a conniption over Trump nominating a third justice and the possibility of the Court having a 6-3 conservative lean.
They probably don’t know she ruled in favor of the Governor of Illinois, granting leaders blanket authority to force lockdowns in the name of safety – a position with which most Trumpist Republicans vehemently disagree.
Every corporatist politician on both sides of the aisle is happy to nominate ACB to the bench, where she can continue the Court’s tradition of ruling in favor of special interests and corporate power at the expense of average citizens the next 30 years.
Back to Senator Feinstein – her great crime was lacking the respect even to pretend to maintain the illusion.
The California Senator and the judge engaged in some back-and-forth questions and answers. Barrett continued avoiding direct answers and finished with a description of what attorneys have claimed is a basic, unremarkable legal concept.
After hearing ACB’s thoughts on the “doctrine of severability,” the 87-year-old reacted by saying:
As if that wasn’t considered enough of a betrayal by a Trump-crazed Democratic Party that demands 100% compliance with the party line, the highest-ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee concluded the hearings by thanking Chairman Lindsey Graham for his “fairness” during the hearings and praised the process.
“This has been one of the best Senate hearings I have ever participated in,” Feinstein remarked, to which Graham responded, “that means a lot to me,” adding that his Democratic counterpart is a “joy to work with.”
Then the two opposing party members hugged.
The image pushed liberal activists to call for the California Senator’s resignation.
What they don’t realize is that the embrace gave them a glimpse at the actual ideological alignments driving Amy Coney Barrett’s snap confirmation.
Justice Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court is a certainty because both sides want her.
The narrative sold to the public will continue to be about the Republicans abusing their majority to brute force confirm Trump’s Justice against the hapless Democrats’ wishes. Yet, the Dems will never intensify their efforts to oppose Barrett’s confirmation.
They won’t get creative and dirty and do what it takes to stall the proceedings and muck up the system as Mitch McConnell would. They won’t lift a finger beyond crying foul, which is just a form of campaigning in an election year.
A party with a genuine interest in leveraging power to govern and insight change wouldn’t behave anything like the DNC. They’re the Washington Generals – there to put up a flaccid fight and then lose.
How Many “Yea” Votes Will Amy Coney Barrett Receive In Her Confirmation Vote?
|“Yea” Votes||Betting Odds|
|49 Or Fewer||+1200|
Bovada also set betting odds on the number of “yea” votes Amy Coney Barrett will receive at her final confirmation hearing before the full Senate.
House Majority Leader Mitch McConnell confirmed on Thursday that, “We have the votes.”
The only question now is if the vote will remain strictly along party lines, as has been the case along every stage of the nomination process. Could a vulnerable Republican in a tight Senate race in blue territory flip and vote “nay” to aid their reelection effort?
There’s nothing Congress likes more than votes passing by the narrowest margins possible. It makes sense that 51 “yeas” is the favorite.
However, I don’t think two Republicans will cross party lines after approval ratings for Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation have made a significant positive jump in recent weeks.
I’m predicting we see a 53-vote confirmation before the end of next week, well before Election Day.
Whether having the Supreme Court seat off the table helps or hurts Donald Trump’s reelection chances remains to be seen and is a topic for another day (article coming soon.