Democrats are grabbing any excuse they can to delay the confirmation hearings for President Trump's Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. The president's positive COVID diagnosis, for one. The number of senators getting the virus, for another. But there's a solution to those safety concerns: virtual hearings. A number of committees have already, successfully conducted business via Zoom, so why can't the Senate Judiciary do the same and question Barrett the same way?
The RNC picked out a handful of hypocritical senators on Monday who praised the use of "hybrid hearings" before it came to Barrett's nomination. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), for instance, thanked Chairman Lindsey Graham for holding the virtual hearing for Judge Justin Walker's nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
"Thank you for being willing to do a hybrid hearing like we're seeing today...I'm glad that we are seeing senators there as well as remotely," she said at the time.
On Monday Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) said that the rise in coronavirus cases in the Senate should mark an end to the hearings.
"Sadly three of my colleagues have been diagnosed as having the virus, he noted, before making a poor analogy. "Now, if this were a baseball team or a football team and three of the players came down with COVID-19, we would have cancelled the game and postponed it to a future date."
And yet in March, Durbin said there was no reason why they can't do their jobs remotely.
"Why is it imperative to be physically present on the floor closer to one another than perhaps we should be," he asked.
See below for more proof that work can go on interrupted.
Senators Klobuchar, Tillis, Hirono, and Blackburn appeared remotely in May at Judge Justin Walker's confirmation hearing for the D.C. Circuit. Walker testified in person. pic.twitter.com/MlfRaVfTTR— John Doe (@fedjudges) October 2, 2020
But Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) alleges that he and his colleagues can't possibly proceed with the Barrett hearings. Because, as he explained to an MSNBC host, he won't have the luxury of aides whispering notes in his ear, making him "less able in his questioning."
The Judiciary Committee has been successfully holding hybrid hearings for months.— Senate Republican Communications Center (@SRCC) October 4, 2020
MSNBC host literally opposes a hybrid hearing for Judge Barrett because protestors can’t interrupt.
Sen. Kaine says he opposes it because staff can’t whisper questions in his ear? pic.twitter.com/eIEDf1FhRO
I'm sure Sen. Kaine's concerns will be taken into consideration...but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already indicated that he plans to stay on schedule with Barrett's nomination.
"The Senate Judiciary Committee will convene on October 12th as Chairman Graham has scheduled to begin confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court," McConnell announced. "The Senate’s floor schedule will not interrupt the thorough, fair, and historically supported confirmation process previously laid out by Chairman Graham."
"Since May," he adds, "the Judiciary Committee has operated flawlessly through a hybrid method that has seen some Senators appear physically at its hearings while other members have participated virtually. The Committee has utilized this format successfully for many months while protecting the health and safety of all involved."