(SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM): "This is going to be a long contentious week…."
The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday opened its four-day confirmation hearing for President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett as Republicans seek to push through her approval to a lifetime seat on the court just weeks before the November 3rd presidential election.
(SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM): "Let's make it respectful. Let's make it challenging. Let's remember, the world is watching."
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who chairs the committee, began by paying tribute to the late liberal justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and called Barrett, a conservative appellate court judge who would fill her seat, a (quote) "worthy successor."
Democrats are firmly opposed to Barrett, whose confirmation would give the court a 6-3 conservative majority that they fear could lead to rulings that roll back abortion rights, expand religious and gun rights, uphold Republican-backed voting restrictions and strike down the Obamacare health law.
(SEN. DIANE FEINSTEIN): "Most importantly, health care coverage for millions of Americans is at stake with this nomination.”
Senator Dianne Feinstein, the senior Democrat on the committee, signaled her intention to focus on an upcoming Supreme Court case in which Trump and other Republicans are urging the justices to overturn Obamacare. Feinstein noted that Barrett had criticized the court's 2012 ruling, authored by conservative Chief Justice John Roberts, that upheld the law.
Barrett’s hearing comes with the country deeply mired in the coronavirus pandemic, and with Trump and at least three Republican Senators – two of them on the Judiciary Committee – having contracted COVID-19 in recent weeks.
One of them, Senator Mike Lee, appeared in person and took his mask off while delivering his opening remarks.
This after Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy chastised the Republican-led committee for potentially putting the health of Barrett and her family – including her seven children – at risk… though Barrett and her husband say they contracted the virus over the summer and have since recovered.
Leahy also was among those who continued to charge Republican leadership with hypocrisy, given that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in 2016 blocked Democratic President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court pick, saying then that a Senate confirmation vote should not be held in an election year.
(SEN. PATRICK LEAHY): “Half of the Senate had to break their word, contradicting every argument they made 4 years ago about the American people needing a voice during an election year vacancy.”
Barrett’s hearing concludes Thursday.