Democrats on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee said Republicans are rushing the Supreme Court confirmation process for Judge Amy Coney Barrett and reiterated calls for postponing the review of her nomination until after the presidential inauguration in January.
In a letter to Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham released late Wednesday, Democrats said the timeline Graham has set does not allow for a thorough FBI background investigation, review of her entire judicial record or for Barrett to answer senators’ questions.
“This timeline is a sharp departure from past practice,” the Democrats wrote. “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.”
Graham, a South Carolina Republican, met with Barrett on Tuesday. He described her as highly qualified and has said he is “committed to ensuring that the nominee gets a challenging, fair, and respectful hearing.”
President Donald Trump nominated Barrett, a conservative jurist he previously tapped for the federal bench in 2017, to fill the seat of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the court’s best-known liberal who died September 18 at the age of 87.
Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate, and it appears Barrett has enough Republican support to be confirmed, despite fierce opposition from Democrats.
The Judiciary Committee is scheduled to begin three to four days of formal confirmation hearings on October 12. A vote in the full Senate could come by the end of the month.
Democrats have argued the next justice should be named by the winner of the November presidential election, a view Republicans championed when there was a Supreme Court vacancy in 2016. In that year, former President Barack Obama, a Democrat, put forth a nominee to replace the late justice Antonin Scalia, an arch conservative.
A public opinion poll by The New York Times and Siena College released Sunday showed 56% of voters indicated the seat should not be filled until after the election, while 41% said Trump should make the choice.
Barrett has been meeting with other Republican senators, including talks Wednesday with Senators Mitt Romney of Utah and Todd Young of Indiana. She is scheduled to meet Thursday with Senators Josh Hawley of Missouri and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee. So far, no Democrat has agreed to meet with her.
Democrats have also argued that if Barrett joins the court, she should recuse herself from any potential cases that may arise from the November election due to potential conflicts of interest.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rejected that view Wednesday, calling it “ridiculous” and saying Democrats “are grasping at straws.”
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