Senate Democrats opened the judicial hearings on Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination Monday with warnings that she represented a threat to the Affordable Care Act and many Americans’ health care.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) said the nomination is a “judicial torpedo” aimed at the law’s protection for people with pre-existing health conditions among its provisions.
The Trump administration wants the court to strike down the entire law, starting with arguments scheduled for Nov. 10, the Associated Press reports. Barrett planned to tell senators that “courts are not designed to solve every problem or right every wrong in our public life,” NPR reports.
In her draft opening statement, she says, “The policy decisions and value judgments of government must be made by the political branches elected by and accountable to the People. The public should not expect courts to do so, and courts should not try.”
Barrett, President Donald Trump’s pick to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, will detail her link to the late Justice Antonin Scalia, for whom she clerked. Barrett, who is based in Indiana, is a judge on the Chicago-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
The hearing is moving ahead under unusual circumstances, with Election Day looming and a coronavirus outbreak roiling the nation. Republicans are aiming to put Barrett on the court before Election Day. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is adamant that the Judiciary Committee hearing should proceed despite three Republican senators, including two members testing positive for the coronavirus.
The committee is allowing members to appear either in person or virtually, as will Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris (D-CA), and has drastically reduced the number of people in the hearing room.
“The world is watching,” Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said on Monday.
Democrats objected to confirmation proceedings so close to the election, which they said was unprecedented.
“There is nothing unconstitutional about this process,” Graham said. “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 great woman. The bottom line here is that the Senate is doing its duty constitutionally.”