Republicans and Democrats on Sunday offered their own previews of the confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, a day after President Trump controversially nominated the conservative to fill the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham told Fox News on Sunday that the committee plans on starting confirmation hearings for Barrett beginning Oct. 12 and will approve her nomination on Oct. 22, which sets up a full Senate vote to send the conservative judge to the Supreme Court by the end of the month.
Barrett’s confirmation would solidify a 6-3 conservative majority at the Supreme Court. Additionally, it would come in time for the court’s scheduled hearing regarding a case on the Affordable Care Act just days after the November presidential election.
While prominent Democrats — which include Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) — warn that Barrett’s confirmation to the Supreme Court poses threats to the Affordable Care Act’s longevity, citing her past remarks that were critical of rulings that upheld the ACA, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee have been quick to dismiss Democrats’ fears.
Here’s how Republican and Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee weighed in ahead of Barrett’s confirmation hearings:
Republicans on Senate Judiciary Committee
Republican senators appeared to take a cue from Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia, the son of late Justice Antonin Scalia, who said during an interview on Fox News Sunday that Democrats will use the ACA as a “red herring” to attack Barrett.
Referring to Barrett’s vehement disagreement with Chief Justice John Roberts’ ruling in 2012 that upheld the ACA, Scalia downplayed Democrats’ fears of Barrett’s Supreme Court appointment would lead to the overturning of the ACA by noting that she made her comments critical of the law prior to becoming a federal appeals court judge.
“It was a comment that a number of people made at the time,” Scalia said. “It’s not a question that will be before the court in the case that’s coming up and there’s absolutely zero reason to believe that judge Barrett is somebody who does not have the views about the importance of health care.”
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO)
When asked on “Meet the Press” whether it was his hope the ACA will be ruled unconstitutional if Barrett is confirmed, Blunt replied that is not his hope, but that he does hope “she looks at the facts of the case, applies it to the Constitution and the law and then makes a decision.”
After saying he’s unsure “how you can predict any of that in advance,” Blunt was asked if he wants to see the ACA ruled unconstitutional and thrown out.
“Well if it is thrown out, it will be months from the time the court hears it,” Blunt said. ‘We’ll have time to think about that argument and to do something about it. I think a lot of the Affordable Care Act is now baked into the system.”
Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT)
Lee argued during an interview on ABC News that Barrett’s potential appointment to the Supreme Court shouldn’t revolve around how she may rule on “a single case” such as Roe v. Wade.
“You know, only time can tell what will happen to any one precedent. Anytime someone is looking at overruling a precedent, it’s a lot more complicated than people might think,” Lee said. “In any event, you can’t look at the confirmation of a Supreme Court justice and and boil down that jurist’s contribution to the law, past and future, to what they might do with a single case,” he continued.
Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA)
Kennedy took aim at Democrats who claim that Barrett’s appointment to the Supreme Court will lead to the overturning of the ACA, during an interview on Fox News Sunday.
Appearing right after Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) made that assertion on the program, Kennedy replied that although Stabenow is a “colleague” and “friend,” he ripped into her fears of Barrett’s appointment leading to the demise of the ACA.
“I say this gently: Sell crazy somewhere else; we’re all stocked up here,” Kennedy said. “Unless Debbie’s clairvoyant, I don’t think she knows how the nominee’s going to vote or any other member of the United States Supreme Court.”
Kennedy went on to say that his “Democratic friends” think that the Supreme Court
“ought to be a mini-Congress.”
“They don’t even need to hear cases; they already know how they’re going to vote. And that’s part of the problem,” Kennedy said. “That’s not how I view the appropriate role of the Supreme Court. And I don’t think that’s how it operates.”
Democrats on Senate Judiciary Committee
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL)
When asked about calls for Democrats to boycott Barrett’s committee proceedings and how several of his colleagues on the committee refuse to meet with Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Durbin told ABC News that he will “extend that courtesy, if she requests it, for at least a socially distanced, safe meeting, perhaps over the phone.”
Durbin said he wants to be “respectful” although “we disagree on some things.”
The Illinois senator then said that he wants to grill Barrett “point-blank” on whether her position is to eliminate the ACA that provides health insurance for 20 million Americans.
“These are fundamental questions,” Durbin said. “No more important now and any time in the past, important at this moment because of the pandemic that we face. There are many other questions but let’s start with that.”
Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE)
During an interview on CBS, Coons said that he will meet Barrett in person or by phone prior to her testimony before the committee, when he plans to “press her on her previous statements” regarding the ACA.
Coons then criticized Trump for continuing his efforts to overturn the ACA, before pointing to Barrett’s past remarks that are critical of rulings that upheld it.
“It’s amazing to me that Judge Barrett has publicly criticized the decision by Chief Justice Roberts that upheld the constitutionality of the ACA and that President Trump is making it clear a vote for Judge Barrett to be on the Supreme Court is a vote to repeal the ACA and take away health care protection from a majority of Americans during a pandemic,” Coon said.
Later in the interview, Coons said that it’s “appropriate” for the committee to question Barrett’s past remarks on ACA in light of the Supreme Court’s scheduled hearing on it just days after the November election.
“It is appropriate for us to question her statements, her opinions, her actions as a professor and judge, but not to go into questions of doctrine or faith personally,” Coons said, referring to Barrett’s Catholic faith. “That’s where I’ll be focusing my questions on the Affordable Care Act and on what she has said publicly about her views on its constitutionality.”
— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) September 27, 2020
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ)
Booker told MSNBC that he’s open to meeting Barrett and would ask her whether she was willing to recuse herself from 2020 election-related cases.
“I think you know my spirit, which is to sit down and meet with people and talk to them,” Booker said. “And I’m going to make it very clear. One of the things I want to ask her is will she recuse herself in terms of any election issues that come before us because if she does not recuse herself, I fear that the court will be further delegitimized.”
Booker also joined his Democratic colleagues in voicing concerns that Barrett would help overturn the ACA if confirmed to the Supreme Court because of her past remarks signaling that she “will tear down” the law.