President Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett, is on Capitol Hill on Tuesday for a day of meetings with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other pivotal Republican senators in preparation for her fast-track confirmation before the Nov. 3 election.
Pence said he looks forward to Senate voting in the “near future” on Barrett’s confirmation, saying Americans need a full court, with nine justices.
“We truly do believe Judge Barrett represents the best of America,” Pence said in brief remarks in the Senate’s Mansfield Room.
Democrats are confronting the limits of their power as they fight against the nomination, and some have said they won’t meet with Barrett, who is expected to be swiftly confirmed for the seat held by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg by the end of October.
Barrett made no public remarks at the start of what is expected to be days of meet-and-greet sessions with senators, a traditional part of the confirmation process.
Later Tuesday, she was set to meet with South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and other senators on the panel. Hearings at the committee are set to begin Oct. 12.
Hours after Trump named the Indiana federal judge as his pick to replace Ginsburg, who died Sept. 18, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said a vote to confirm Barrett would be “a dagger aimed at the heart of the health care protections Americans so desperately need and want.”
But there will also be ample opportunities for Democrats to move off-message as partisans on both sides infuse the nomination battle with cultural, gender and religious politics.
Some in the left wing of the Democratic Party are pushing for senators to boycott the hearings or commit to adding more justices to the court if Biden wins the presidential election. That has fueled concerns in the party about placing too much emphasis on procedural tactics that only delay votes by hours or days — even as precious time ticks away in the few remaining weeks before the Nov. 3 election.
Religion, in particular, could be a minefield.
Democrats worry that Barrett has tied her Catholicism too closely to some of her statements and decisions, and California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, still faces criticism for her comments during Barrett’s 2017 confirmation hearing.
Feinstein had joined Republicans on the panel in asking Barrett about her faith, but then went further by telling the then-professor that “when you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you.”
One likely prominent messenger on the issue is the Democratic vice presidential nominee, California Sen. Kamala Harris, who sits on the judiciary panel and is expected to participate in the confirmation hearings.
And while some on the left would like to see Democrats boycott the hearings, Democrats on the Judiciary Committee are unlikely to do so.
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