WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans powered past a Democratic boycott Thursday to advance Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination to the full Senate, keeping President Donald Trump’s pick on track for confirmation before the Nov. 3 election.
Democratic senators refused to show up in protest of the GOP’s rush to install Trump’s nominee to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Never has the Senate confirmed a Supreme Court nominee so close to a presidential election.
All 12 Republicans on the committee voted in favor of Barrett, a conservative judge. No-show Democrats left behind posters at their desks of Americans they say have benefited from the Affordable Care Act, now being challenged at the high court. Senators plan to convene a rare weekend session before a final confirmation vote expected Monday.
“Big day for America,” Trump tweeted after the committee vote.
Barrett, 48, would lock a 6-3 conservative court majority for the foreseeable future. That could open a new era of rulings on abortion access, gay marriage and even the results of this year’s presidential election.
Republicans have bristled at Democrats’ claim that the Obama-era health law, known as “Obamacare,” is in jeopardy if Barrett joins the court. But Trump told CBS’ “60 Minutes” that “it will be so good” if the court puts an end to the law. The court is set to hear a Trump-backed case against the health overhaul on Nov. 10.
“I think it’ll end. I hope that they’ll end it,” Trump said in comments released Thursday by the White House before the interview airs Sunday.
As the Senate committee met, protesters, some shouting “Stop the confirmation!” demonstrated outside the Capitol across the street from the Supreme Court. Some dressed as handmaids, a reference to Barrett’s role in a conservative religious group that once called high-ranking women members “handmaids.” Other demonstrators had “#SupportAmy” signs.
The protesters drowned out Democratic senators who had called a news conference to decry what they called a “sham” confirmation process.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York said the Senate’s Republican majority “is conducting the most rushed, most partisan and the least legitimate nomination to the Supreme Court in our nation’s history.”
“Democrats will not lend a single ounce of legitimacy to this sham vote,” he said. Unable to stop the confirmation, Democrats have been trying unsuccessfully to stall the process so the winner of the White House race could name the new nominee.