Supreme Court

Sharp Divide Over Barrett Nomination Comes Into Focus as Local Leaders Weigh In During Hearing

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The first day for the Judiciary Committee hearing for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett unfolded as expected, with senators sharply divided along party lines.  

Barrett, who serves on the federal appeals court in Chicago, delivered her opening statement and laid out her approach to the bench during the first hearing of the week.

 She compared herself to the late Justice Antoin Scalia, whom she once clerked for.  

“His judicial philosophy was straightforward: a judge must apply the law as it written, not as she wishes it were,” she said.

Republicans, in the majority in the Senate, are expected to quickly pass Barrett’s nomination out of committee.

“I think I know how the votes going to come out. This is going to be a long, contentious week,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said.

Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris, who serves on the judiciary committee, attended remotely, and expressed concern that the committee was not taking proper coronavirus precautions.  

Harris says Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s legacy “is in jeopardy” with Barrett’s nomination.  

“Every American must understand that with this nomination equal justice under law is at stake,” she said during the hearing.

With photos enlarged of constituents dependent on the Affordable Care Act – Democrats like Sen. Dick Durbin highlighted the Murray family from Tinley Park whose son has had numerous heart surgeries since he was born.

Many Senate Democrats, who have pushed for a delay in the confirmation process until after the November election, believe Barrett may be the deciding vote that would undo Obamacare.    
During the hearing, Durbin said the Murray family’s “health bills had reached a million dollars,” but added that “ the Affordable Care Act banned insurance companies from imposing these annual lifetime limits.”

Durbin’s November opponent, Republican Senate candidate Mark Curran, calls the Democrat’s arguments over the ACA flawed, and says that his party is not seeking to eliminate protections in the bill when it says it wants to repeal the legislation.

“Nobody in America should be without healthcare and pre-existing conditions should be protected,” he said. “I think the problem with Obamacare and why it didn’t work, in terms of repealing it, is that there was no replacement that protected pre-existing conditions.” 

Republican Indiana Sen. Mike Braun believes Barrett’s Midwest centered resume wills serve as an asset. 

“When confirmed, Amy Coney Barrett will become the only justice  to the Supreme Court who spent the majority of her professional life, in middle America, not the East Coast,” he said.

“I would be the only sitting justice who didn’t attend school at Harvard or Yale,” Barrett added. “But I’m confident Notre Dame can hold its own and maybe I could teach them a thing or two about football.”   

On Tuesday, senators will begin their questions to Barrett. The Judiciary Committee vote to move her nomination to the full Senate is expected on Oct. 22. Then, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will decide how quickly to move the nomination to the floor of the chamber. That full Senate vote is expected Oct. 29, with the presidential election coming just a few days later on Nov. 3.    

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