(Greg Nash/Pool via AP)Greg Nash/AP

Republicans blocked a Democratic move in the Senate Judiciary Committee to delay the confirmation process. Their leader then declared, “We have the votes” to prevail.

Judge Amy Coney Barrett leaving a hearing on Wednesday.
Judge Amy Coney Barrett leaving a hearing on Wednesday.Credit…Hilary Swift for The New York Times

The question-and-answer segment of the hearing this week was marked by general civility and respect for the nominee. On the other hand, senators amped up their attacks on each other on Thursday, battling over the extraordinarily swift drive to confirm Judge Barrett before November’s election.

The Ongoing Debate:

Democrats accused Republicans of a hypocritical power grab by rushing to fill a seat so close to an election, after refusing to do so in 2016, when Democrats put forward a nominee to the Supreme Court, Merrick B. Garland, nine months before the balloting.

Democrats Reasoning:

Their reasons are that the Republicans want a 6-to-3 conservative majority to strike down the Affordable Care Act, limit abortion rights and tip the presidential election to President Trump if a dispute ends up before the court.

Urging them to reverse course, they warned that Republicans were setting a dangerous new precedent in an ever-escalating judicial war between the two parties that could irrevocably erode the legitimacy of the Senate and the courts themselves.

Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont and a former chairman of the committee, said, “This process is a caricature of illegitimacy. The fact that we had a nominee before Justice Ginsburg was even buried in order to jam this nomination through before the election. That is a mark on the United States Senate, and it will be a mark of a process of a callous political power grab.”

Given that Democrats have few means to push the confirmation schedule back, the move to delay it was a largely symbolic act likely to be one of their last opportunities to protest the process.

Republicans Reasoning:

Republicans countered that they had every right to proceed. Unlike in 2016, the president was not standing for re-election and the Senate was controlled by a different party. However, President Trump is on the ballot and his party controls the Senate.

Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, said, “I recognize our Democratic friends wish there was a Democratic majority in the Senate, but the voters decided otherwise. So this committee moving forward is consistent with over 200 years of history.”

Laura E. Wolk testifying on Thursday.
Laura E. Wolk testifying on Thursday.Credit…Pool photo by Anna Moneymaker

Laura E. Wolk, the first blind woman to serve as a law clerk on the Supreme Court, testified that Judge Barrett “allowed me to excel” by teaching and mentoring her at Notre Dame Law School.

Ms. Wolk’s Testimony: 

Ms. Wolk testified, “I needed help, and I needed it fast. To my great fortune, I had been randomly assigned to Judge Barrett’s civil procedure class as part of my first-semester schedule.”

“Though I had only known her for a few weeks, her rare combination of graciousness and warmth gave me hope that she could assist me in procuring the technology from Notre Dame as a stopgap measure until I could fix my own.”

Ms. Wolk confided in Judge Barrett that she worried “about failing classes, having to choose between completing my assignments and figuring out how to get to the grocery store independently, and feeling as though the energy spent troubleshooting these issues were preventing me from forging friendships.”

Judge Barrett’s Selflessness: 

Judge Barrett leaned forward and told Ms. Wolk: “Laura, this is no longer your problem. It’s my problem.” From that point forward, Judge Barrett mentored the young woman, encouraging her to rise to her current status.

“To this day, I do not know how Judge Barrett advocated on my behalf, which is itself a testament to her humility,” Ms. Wolk testified. “This allowed me to excel in my first semester and to place me in a position that would eventually enable me to pursue the seemingly impossible dream of clerking on the Supreme Court.”

Credit: Nicholas Fandos and

Day 4 Full Highlights Video: 

Other Important Events:
  • Republicans, flouting committee rules, pushed ahead without Democrats present to schedule a vote.
  • Graham conceded Democrats have ‘a good chance of winning the White House’ as committee rushes toward confirmation.
  • Senator Whitehouse warned of political payback, hinting at ending the filibuster or expanding the court if Democrats take control.
  • Witnesses from a nonpartisan committee in the American Bar Association declared Barrett “well qualified.”
  • Democrats called witnesses to emphasize how Barrett’s potential future rulings could impact average Americans.

Article Credit: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/15/us/politics/amy-coney-barrett-hearing.htmlz

Final Thoughts: 

Between the ongoing debate over the controversial filling of a seat in the Supreme Court and Laura E. Wolk’s moving testimony about Judge Barrett’s benevolence, the final day of the judicial hearing did not fall short.

As of now, the Senate Judiciary Committee lined up a vote for Oct. 22 on Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

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