What does today’s vote mean for nation’s highest court?; Mike Berry, deputy general counsel for First Liberty Institute, weighs in.
Debate raged overnight on the Senate floor as Democrats protested the fact Republicans are moving ahead with the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, voting Sunday afternoon to limit debate on the judge and setting up a final confirmation vote on Monday.
“Senate Democrats are taking over the floor all night to fight this sham process by Senate Republicans,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Sunday evening. “We will not stop fighting.”
The vote to limit debate on the Barrett nomination — also called a “cloture” vote — limited debate on the Supreme Court nominee to 30 hours on the Senate floor. The nomination was moved forward on a 51-48 vote, with Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, the only Republicans voting against it.
Because the vote happened in a rare Sunday afternoon meeting of the Senate and the Senate floor was held open all night — also a rare occurrence — a vote on Barrett’s confirmation is almost certain to happen Monday evening, after that 30 hours has elapsed.
Barrett will likely be sworn in as a Supreme Court justice before the end of the day.
“This is something to really be proud of and feel good about. We made an important contribution to the future of this country,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said as the Senate advanced Barrett for confirmation for a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court. “A lot of what we’ve done over the last four years will be undone sooner or later by the next election … They won’t be able to do much about this for a long time to come.”
McConnell also praised Barrett’s qualifications and accomplishments, and slammed Democrats for their opposition to the nominee who was rated “Well Qualified” for a Supreme Court seat by the American Bar Association (ABA). She earned glowing endorsements from her colleagues, including the words “brilliant,” “forthright,” and “intellectual giant.”
McConnell added: “Fortunately for Judge Barrett and our nation, history will remember what is already clear. The deficiency is with their judgment, not hers … The Senate is doing the right thing. We’re moving this nomination forward and, colleagues, by tomorrow night we’ll have a new member of the United States Supreme Court.”
Democrats took to the floor Sunday night into Monday morning, slamming Republicans for moving ahead with the Barrett nomination so close to the presidential election and in the middle of a pandemic, a message they have hammered since before Barrett was announced as the nominee.
“The Affordable Care Act hangs in the balance with this nomination,” Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., said shortly after 6 a.m. Democrats have said Barrett is likely to rule to strike down the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in a case set for oral arguments on Nov. 10. That, however, is not nearly as certain to happen as Democrats make it seem.
“Today, with more than 220,000 Americans dead … we are in the midst of an election, rushing to confirm a controversial nominee from President Trump who lost the popular vote … and was impeached by the House,” Carper also said. “If you’ve ever wondered what hypocrisy looks like, this is it.”
Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett meets with Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., not pictured, Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Barrett is likely to be confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court before the end of Monday. (Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool via AP)
Carper added: “[The Founders] did not envision a sham confirmation process for judicial nominees.”
Shortly after 5 a.m., Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., spoke on the floor about the pandemic.
“The Trump administration is admitting surrender,” he said regarding reported comments from White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. “And the Senate has done nothing to provide Americans relief for 6 months.”
Republicans have called the House-passed CARES Act too large and not focused enough, while Democrats have blocked Republican-supported coronavirus bills in the Senate as recently as last week, saying those bills are not broad enough.
“The effort to rush the Barrett nomination is driven by the Republican desire to destroy the Affordable Care Act,” Kaine said. He lamented that after Republicans held over the Supreme Court seat of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, that they are moving ahead with the Barrett confirmation so close to a presidential election.
Republicans have said they are simply following precedent — in the vast majority of cases, election-year Supreme Court nominees from a president in the same party as that which controls the Senate are confirmed, while those nominated under divided government have not been. But there has never been a Supreme Court justice confirmed this close to a presidential election.
Among the Democrats who also spoke overnight are Sens. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., Bob Casey, D-Pa., Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., and Chris Van Hollen, D-Md. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., took to the floor shortly after 6 a.m.
“I hope most Marylanders are asleep at this hour, but I’m headed to the Senate floor now in a last-ditch effort to warn the GOP not to abuse their power to pack the Court, destroy the ACA, and overturn key constitutional rights,” Van Hollen said in a tweet early Monday morning. “There will be a reckoning. If you’re awake tune in.”
Murphy added: “Just finished the 3-5am shift on the Senate floor in protest of the vote later today on radical Amy Coney Barrett. She will rule to invalidate ObamaCare, causing 23M to lose insurance in the middle of a pandemic. Catastrophic. Both sad and furious on my rainy drive home.”
The 30 hours of Senate debate on Barrett will expire at about 7:26 p.m. Monday, meaning at that point the Senate will be able to take a final vote on her confirmation. That vote will likely be over — and Barrett confirmed — by about 8 p.m.
Despite the fact Murkowski voted against the procedural motion to move ahead with the Barrett nomination, she said over the weekend that she will vote for Barrett on a final vote.
She said that although she disagrees with the process Republicans have used to move ahead Barrett’s confirmation, she will not “hold it against” the nominee.
“I will be a yes,” Murkowski said Saturday in a floor speech. “I have no doubt about her intellect. I have no doubt about Judge Barrett’s judicial temperament. I have no doubt about her capability to do the job — and to do it well.”
Murkowski added: “I have concluded that she is the sort of person we want on the Supreme Court.”
That means Collins — who expressed the same process concerns as Murkowski but has said she will vote against the nominee in order to be “fair and consistent” — is almost certain to be the only Republican voting against Barrett. With all Democrats voting against her confirmation, the vote is likely to be 52-48 barring any last-minute surprises, like positive coronavirus tests within the Republican Senate caucus.
Barrett, replacing the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, will represent a significant ideological shift to that seat on the Supreme Court, bringing the tribunal to a 6-3 Republican-appointed majority.
She will be the third Supreme Court justice confirmed by Trump in just three years; the last president to nominate three new Supreme Court justices who were eventually confirmed was Ronald Reagan, whose final nominee, Justice Anthony Kennedy, left the bench in 2018 and was replaced by Trump nominee Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
Fox News’ Chad Pergram, Marisa Schultz, Jason Donner and Ronn Blitzer contributed to this report.