Despite a boycott by Democrats including Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted Thursday to send Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination to the full Senate.
Republicans on the committee voted 12-0 Thursday morning to approve President Donald Trump’s nominee to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, sending the issue to the full Senate for consideration. It was a party-line vote as Democrats on the committee had signaled Wednesday they would not participate.
Before the vote, Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, acknowledged the absent Democrats, saying he did not intend to “allow them to take over the committee.”
“When this is over, I hope you feel a sense of accomplishment,” Graham told fellow Republicans. “This is why we all run. It’s moments like this that make everything you go through matter. It’s moments like this when you can tell conservative women there’s a place at the table for you.”
Democrats have maintained that by moving to confirm Trump’s nominee even as some voters are already casting ballots in a presidential election, Republicans have broken a precedent they set four years ago when they refused to consider a Supreme Court nominee during the last year of President Barack Obama’s term.
At a press conference on the steps of the Capitol building, Democrats called Thursday’s vote a sham. Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, said Democrats on the committee were “voting with our feet.”
“The senate majority is conducting the most rushed, the most partisan and least legitimate process in the long history of Supreme Court nominations. Democrats will not lend a single ounce of legitimacy to this sham vote in the Judiciary Committee,” he said.
Blumenthal, a member of the committee, said Barrett’s ascension to the Supreme Court could threaten a number of standing progressive policies including voting rights, abortion rights, gun control policies, and health care laws. The Supreme Court is expected to take up a case challenging the Affordable Care Act next month.
“I’ve been listening to people across Connecticut who feel their fundamental rights may be gone. Our Republican colleagues have pushed this nomination through in a raw exercise of power. They’re doing it because they can,” he said. “The American people can do what they can on Nov. 3. We’re not done. We’re going to continue to fight this nomination.”
In lieu of attending the vote, Democrats left in their committee chairs pictures of constituents who stood to lose health insurance if the Affordable Care Act were to be struck down by the Supreme Court. Blumenthal said the posters represented “real people whose lives may be decimated by rulings on the ACA to strike it down” and people who would “lose control over when and whether they have children.”
Following the vote, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, called the Democrats’ absence from the proceedings “surreal” and the posters left in their stead an exercise in theatrics.
“I just want to comment on the pictures that are in their chairs like this is some sort of sporting event during COVID-19, rather than show up and do their job, they choose to continue the theater that was part of the hearing,” he said.
The vote on Barrett’s nomination is expected to move early next week. In a tweet, Trump called the committee’s action a “big day for America!”
Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., issued a statement repeating his opposition to the confirmation, saying Thursday’s vote “shows just how far [Republicans are] willing to go to take health care away from millions of Americans in the midst of a global pandemic.”
“It’s clear their intention in voting to seat Judge Barrett so quickly is to invalidate the entire Affordable Care Act. Her nomination exemplifies the GOP’s decades-long crusade to use the courts to accomplish what they can’t legislatively,” Murphy said.