Ever since Judge Amy Coney Barrett's nomination, Democrats have had a plan to block her confirmation. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) last week said Judiciary Committee Democrats would refuse to show up to the vote, meaning there would not be a quorum, or the minimum number of senators to conduct votes and official business. Earlier on Wednesday, Schumer confirmed that was indeed the plan.
Democrats believe they have won this fight, but Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans have another plan of attack. If Democrats fail to show up for Judge Amy Coney Barrett's vote, the meeting will still take place at 9 a.m. EST. A vote will take place shortly after the meeting begins and the nomination will move to an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court shortly thereafter.
The reason the Republicans on the committee can continue with business, as usual, is because of Senate Rule XXVI.7(a)(3):
The vote of any committee to report a measure or matter shall require the concurrence of a majority of the members of the committee who are present. No vote of any member of any committee to report a measure or matter may be cast by proxy if rules adopted by such committee forbid the casting of votes for that purpose by proxy; however, proxies may not be voted when the absent committee member has not been informed of the matter on which he is being recorded and has not affirmatively requested that he be so recorded. Action by any committee in reporting any measure or matter in accordance with the requirements of this subparagraph shall constitute the ratification by the committee of all action theretofore taken by the committee with respect to that measure or matter, including votes taken upon the measure or matter or any amendment thereto, and no point of order shall lie with respect to that measure or matter on the ground that such previous action with respect thereto by such committee was not taken in compliance with such requirements.
The committee conducted business on numerous occasions, even when two members of the minority party were not in attendance.
- September 19, 2006: the committee voted on four nominations.
- September 29, 2006: the committee voted on 14 nominations and six bills.
- September 16, 2010: the committee voted on 14 nominations and three bills.
- November 18, 2010: the committee voted on 21 nominations and five bills.
- July 12, 2012: the committee voted on nine nominations and three bills.
- July 26, 2012: the committee voted on William Joseph Baer, as Assistant Attorney General.
- July 17, 2014: the committee voted on five nominations.
In addition to voting on Barrett's nomination, the Judiciary Committee will also vote on other nominations sent before them; on whether or not to subpoena Big Tech companies, like Facebook, Twitter, and Google. The Committee will also vote on the Online Content Policy Modernization Act, which would roll back Section 230 protection of the Communications Decency Act. The clause was put into place in 1996 to protect start-up companies from legal action, something that has been called into question over the New York Post's reporting on Hunter Biden being censored by Twitter.