A handful of Democratic senators are refusing to meet with Donald Trump’s Supreme Court pick, Amy Coney Barrett, calling her nomination “illegitimate” because thousands of Americans have already begun casting their ballots for the 2020 elections.
Senators Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, two Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee that vets nominations to the federal bench, have confirmed they will snub Ms Barrett in the same way Senate Republicans avoided meeting with former Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland in 2016.
Mr Blumenthal will oppose Ms Barrett’s eventual confirmation — which could come just days before the 3 November elections — claiming he would oppose “any nominee proposed as part of this illegitimate sham process, barely one month before an election as Americans are already casting their votes.”
Senate Democrats have seized on the notion that Ms Barrett, if confirmed, would help the high court’s already conservative-leaning majority dismantle the sweeping 2010 health care overhaul known as “Obamacare,” a law that has become increasingly popular in recent years.
“If Judge Barrett's views become law, hundreds of millions of Americans living [with] pre-existing conditions would lose access to their health care. In the middle of a pandemic, rushing confirmation of an extreme jurist who will decimate health care is unconscionable,” Mr Blumenthal tweeted on Sunday.
“I will refuse to treat this process as legitimate [and] will not meet with Judge Amy Coney Barrett,” he wrote.
Asked on CNN on Sunday whether she would meet with Ms Barrett, Ms Hirono said she would not.
“I will take the opportunity to question her when she is under oath,” Ms Hirono said.
Both Mr Blumenthal and Ms Hirono have indicated they looked forward to questioning Ms Barrett at the Judiciary panel’s hearings slated for mid-October.
Ms Barrett, committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, and Democratic ranking member Dianne Feinstein are slated to deliver their opening statements on 12 October.
The panel will vote to advance Ms Barrett’s nomination to the Senate floor for final confirmation votes by 22 October at the latest, Mr Graham said on Sunday.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has not indicated whether he will hold those final votes before or after the election, although he has committed to holding them this year.
There exists some irony in Democrats refusing to meet with Ms Barrett during a GOP confirmation process they have ridiculed as rushed and deeply cynical: it eases Ms Barrett’s schedule, reducing any roadblocks that could slow down her nomination before the election.
During past confirmation processes with Supreme Court nominees, senators have met with justices to question them multiple times, requesting follow-up interviews to pick their brains about various legal questions and express their reservations about certain imminent cases before the court.
Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin has insisted it’s no use slow-rolling the process because Democrats have “no procedural silver bullet” to stop Ms Barrett’s nomination from proceeding to the Senate floor before election day.
The No 2 Senate Democrat, who also sits on the Judiciary panel, told ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos on Sunday that his party could “slow it down perhaps a matter of hours, maybe days at the most — but we can’t stop the outcome.”