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While the outcome of Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation to the Supreme Court is not in doubt, senators remain at odds over the decision to advance a nomination so close to a presidential election.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., once claimed that he would not support such a move, but quickly reversed himself following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
“There’s nothing unconstitutional about this process,” said Graham, reiterating the long-standing GOP justification to block then-President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court in an election year because the White House and Senate were controlled by opposing parties, and that an election should occur to let the people weigh in on the vacancy.
Now, Republicans say, with the White House and Senate controlled by the same party, there is no need to wait. “All I can say is I feel we are doing this constitutionally. Our Democratic friends object to the process, I respect them all,” Graham said, noting that he anticipated a fully party-line vote on her nomination. “This is probably not about persuading each other unless something really dramatic happens. All Republicans will vote yes, and all Democrats will vote no,” he said.
Senate Minority Whip Richard Durbin, D-Ill., a member of the committee used his opening remarks to attack that argument. “It’s a shameless, self-serving, venal reversal,” he said of the GOP’s positions on Garland and Barrett.
Durbin noted that former justices, including Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia, enjoyed overwhelming support in their Senate confirmation processes. “Can this be the same Senate? It’s not. The reason those votes were so overwhelming is because people lived by the rules, they lived by the traditions of the Senate, and they had mutual respect for one another,” he said. “This process doesn’t adhere to those guidelines. The haste in this pursuit before us today is unfair to the Senate and unfair, really, to the nominee.”