Today the Senate Judiciary Committee voted Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation through to the full Senate floor vote while the Democrats, led by Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), stood outside the Capitol to boycott the nomination. Joined by all of the Democrats on the committee, he said that this was "not a decision the members of the committee have taken lightly but the Republican majority has left us no choice, we are boycotting this illegitimate hearing." They did, however, attend all the other days of the committee questioning process.
Republicans hold a majority, so their boycott did not change the outcome. Senate Judiciary Chairman, Lindsey Graham (R-SC) also waived the committee rules that require a minimum of two minority members to be present for the vote.
The nomination has been contentious because of its proximity to the 2020 election. Democrats have repeatedly called out their Republican colleagues for "hypocrisy" in light of the 2016 pre-election hold by Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) of Obama's Supreme Court appointee, Judge Merrick Garland. McConnell and others cited then-Senator Joe Biden's speech where he described the "rancor" involved in confirming a United States Supreme Court Justice in an election year-- as his rationale for voting against a move to proceed to nominate before an election.
Senator Lindsey Graham opened the hearing with complimentary observations about Judge Coney Barrett. He also referenced Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) who both expressed some of the marginalizations they have faced as conservative women in American politics.
Concerning Judge Coney Barrett he began the committee vote with the following:
“I’ve been here a while and I have never seen anyone more capable than Judge Barrett on the law. Two days without a note, Senator Cornyn made that obvious to us...but a deep and wide understanding of the law. But the most important thing to me is her understanding of what a judge does versus what we do. And to all the people out there wondering about Judge Barrett, I can tell you this; the law of Amy will not be applied to the case and controversy, it will be the law as written in the constitution or by statute or whatever regulatory body she’s going to review. She will take her job on without agenda.”
Protestors spoke outside of the Capitol to express their disfavor with the nomination due to concerns over her potential rulings on issues such as racism, healthcare, and abortion rights. Democrats from the senate judiciary committee were also there to address their concerns.
Several experts remarked about Judge Barrett's poise and grace during the confirmation hearings. Her measured and careful responses made it very tough for the neutral viewer to see her as an extremist, as some had feared.
During a recent interview with Jeffrey McCall, a professor of communication at DePauw University remarked that "Judge Barrett has had a most impressive day," McCall told Fox News. "It is clear she is bright and sincere. Her poise and pleasant personality make her a natural for the television cameras, which will also make it increasingly difficult for her opponents on the committee to trash her without themselves coming off as uncivil."
Her opening statement portrayed a person committed to her family, her marriage, and her commitment to the law "as it is written, not as [we wish] it were." She spoke about the long line of mentors she has known as well as those for whom she clerked--such as Justice Antonin Scalia.
She opined that it was the "content of Justice Scalia’s reasoning that shaped me. His judicial philosophy was straight forward. A judge must apply the law as it is written, not as she wishes it were. Sometimes that approach meant reaching results that he did not like, but as he put it in one of his best-known opinions, that is what it means to say that we have a government of laws and not of men. Justice Scalia taught me more than just law. He was devoted to his family, resolute in his beliefs, and fearless of criticism. And as I embarked on my own legal career, I resolved to maintain that same perspective. There’s a tendency in our profession to treat the practice of law as all-consuming while losing sight of everything else, but that makes for a shallow and unfulfilling life. I worked hard as a lawyer and as a professor, I owed that to my clients, to my students and to myself, but I never let the law define my identity or crowd out the rest of my life."
Judge Barrett also spoke about the role of the courts in our society. "Courts have a vital responsibility to the rule of law, which is critical to a free society, but courts are not designed to solve every problem or right every wrong in our public life. The policy decisions and value judgments of government must be made by the political branches, elected by and accountable to the people. The public should not expect courts to do so and courts should not try."
On Tuesday, Senator McConnell held a press conference about the Senate legislative agenda, mentioning the unresolved relief package for Americans and small businesses as well as the schedule for the Senate floor vote to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett for a seat on the Supreme Court.
"I think that will be another signature accomplishment in our effort to put on the courts, the federal courts, men and women who believe in the quaint notion that the job of a judge is to actually follow the law....everybody got the opportunity to see she is a wonderful nominee and I was proud of all of our judiciary committee members in the way they handled the hearing. I think it was great in fact even the ranking Democrat Senator Feinstein indicated she was very impressed with the nominee and thought the hearing was conducted in a very fair and balanced way.”, McConnell said.
In fact, at the conclusion of the hearing, Feinstein exchanged a heartfelt word of respect for the way the hearing was conducted and was captured hugging her colleague, Lindsey Graham. The hug was decried by some as a sign she needs to "retire".
The Senate floor vote is scheduled to take place Monday the 26th of October, just days before the election. A simple majority is required and with the Republican 53-47 majority in the Senate, the confirmation is almost sure to go through. Two Republicans, Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and Senator Susan Murkowski (R-AK) have indicated they will not support her nomination. Future Justice Amy Coney Barrett will be most likely sworn in as the 9th justice on the Supreme court replacing Ruth Bader Ginsberg who recently lost her life to cancer. The Supreme Court will reconvene on November 2nd. The upcoming session calendar can be found here.