Senate Democrats boycotted Thursday's vote to advance the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett for Supreme Court — and poster-size photos of Affordable Care Act (ACA) recipients took their place.
To supporters of the ACA, the faces represent what is at stake: individuals who could lose health care if the Obama-era law is struck down.
Democrats argue that that would be the case if Barrett replaces the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before Election Day — locking in a 6-3 conservative majority by Nov. 10 — when the high court is set to hear a challenge to the ACA.
Never has the Senate confirmed a Supreme Court nominee so close to a presidential election. President Donald Trump has said he wants a justice who won’t rule to uphold Obamacare, and his pick has spoken out against past rulings on the health care law.
“This has been a sham process from the beginning. Amidst a global pandemic and ongoing election, Republicans are rushing to confirm a Supreme Court Justice to take away health care from millions," said Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats in a statement about Thursday's boycott.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) criticized the boycott. "The pictures...are in their chairs like this is some sort of sporting event," he said, adding that he feels the Democratic senators were continuing "the theater that was part of the hearing."
Despite the Democrats' absence, Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans voted Thursday to advance Barrett's Supreme Court nomination to the full Senate. A final confirmation vote expected Monday — and with Republicans holding a 53-47 majority, Barrett is almost certain to be confirmed.
“This is a groundbreaking, historic moment,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., the committee chairman. “We did it."
Barrett, an appellate court judge from Indiana, appeared for three days before the panel last week. She was asked about her approach to legal questions surrounding abortion access, gay marriage and the nation's tradition of a peaceful transfer of presidential power.
Trump has said he wants a judge seated in time to hear any potential disputes arising from the Nov. 3 election, and Barrett declined to say if she would recuse herself from such cases.
Many judicial nominees decline to discuss their views on various issues, saying they will consider the cases as they come. Barrett took a similar approach, drawing deep concern from Democrats because she had previously spoken out against abortion and past rulings on the ACA.
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Contributing: The Associated Press.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Photos of Obamacare recipients filled Democrats' seats at Barrett vote