The confirmation hearing for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee to fill the vacancy left by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, began Monday, with all 22 members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Barrett herself making opening remarks.
Senate Democrats spent significant time casting doubt on the 48-year-old mother of seven’s ability to judge impartially, suggesting that she would dismantle the Affordable Care Act and might ignore the will of the American people in a possible contested election.
Meanwhile, Republican senators were prepared for the onslaught of criticism—particularly the argument that confirming a Supreme Court justice in an election year is unconstitutional.
“Justice Ginsburg, when asked about this several years ago, said that a president serves for four years, not three,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “There is nothing unconstitutional about this process. This is a vacancy that has occurred through a tragic loss of a great woman and we’re going to fill that vacancy with another.”
Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) went further to explain that moving forward with Barrett’s confirmation hearing is not unprecedented.
“This hearing is 16 days after Judge Barrett’s announced nomination,” he said. “More than half of all Supreme Court hearings have been held within 16 days of the announcement of the nominees. This hearing is no different.
“These proceedings are following right along in the same process that has historically been the process of the Senate.
“So, then, the argument is made that this is an election year, and the Republicans said in 2016 that in an election year, they wouldn’t move forward with President Obama’s nomination,” Crapo noted. “[There has been a vacancy] in a presidential election year 29 times. Every single one of those 29 times, the sitting president made a nomination to replace the vacancy.
“Nineteen of those 29 times, the parties of the president and the Senate majority were the same. Seventeen of those nominees were confirmed,” he continued. “By contrast, of the 10 times in which the Senate was controlled by the party opposite of the president, only one time the Senate proceeded to fill that vacancy. In fact, vacancies under a divided government have not been filled for over 130 years, going back to 1888.”
In her own opening statement, Barrett explained her judicial philosophy, which she adopted from the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
“His judicial philosophy was straightforward: A judge must apply the law as written, not as the judge wishes it were,” she said. “Sometimes that approach meant reaching results that he did not like. But as he put it in one of his best-known opinions, that is what it means to say we have a government of laws, not of men.
“… When I write an opinion resolving a case, I read every word from the perspective of the losing party,” Barrett continued. “I ask myself, ‘How would I view the decision if one of my children was the party I was ruling against?’ Even though I would not like the result, would I understand that the decision was fairly reasoned and grounded in the law? That is the standard I set for myself in every case, and it is the standard I will follow as long as I am a judge on any court.”
Because most expect the remainder of the hearing to be contentious, Franklin Graham has urged people to pray for Barrett and the confirmation process.
“We need to pray for Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearings today and in the coming days,” he posted on Facebook. “Join me in praying that she would be treated fairly and respectfully. God closed the mouths of the lions for Daniel, and I pray He will protect Judge Amy Coney Barrett from those who would do anything to prevent a conservative justice from being appointed to the Supreme Court. Everyone knows that she is exceptionally qualified and one of the brilliant legal minds of our day. Let’s pray that her confirmation can happen quickly and without the shameful circus and ugliness the world witnessed at the last one.”
Above: Sen. Lindsey Graham, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, speaks during the first day of Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearing in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 12.
Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Pool via CNP/MediaPunch Inc./Alamy Stock Photo