Yesterday, we urged Senate Republicans to ignore hyperbolic Democratic demands to delay Judge Amy Coney Barrett's Supreme Court confirmation hearings. The opposition party does not have the votes to prevent the nomination from going through, and their arguments against both the current process, and the nominee specifically, are notably weak. Their best and perhaps only chance to scuttle the nomination is to run out the clock, with the assistance of a Coronavirus outbreak among a handful of GOP Senators. Quorum concerns and safe voting protocols are legitimate issues that the majority will need to resolve before a final floor vote is held in the coming weeks, most likely a few days before Halloween. But it's essential, and perfectly responsible, to move forward with the confirmation hearing on schedule -- and thankfully, that's precisely what Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell intend to do:
Graham officially notices Barrett’s confirmation hearing. 9 am on Monday, Oct. 12— Burgess Everett (@burgessev) October 5, 2020
Graham didn't mince words in an appearance on Hannity last night:
"I don’t remember any Democrat worried about testing during the riots. This is an effort to deflect and delay. It will not work. She will be confirmed this year. We start on the 12th. She gets reported out of committee on October 22nd. Democrats will have plenty of time to ask her hard relevant questions. If they try to destroy her, it will blow up in their face like it did with Kavanaugh. I am excited about the hearings I want every American to see Amy Barrett and how qualified she is."
We've pointed out several times that the upper chamber's judiciary committee has held more than 20 hearings featuring virtual participation throughout the pandemic. There's no compelling reason why this successful and prudent 'hybrid' approach cannot continue, despite desperate partisan insistences otherwise. McConnell made this case, and fully rejected the histrionics of his Democratic counterpart, in a floor speech:
The Chairman has indicated the Committee will use the same hybrid format — with some participants appearing in person and others appearing over video — that it has successfully used for more than 20 prior hearings this year. Let me say that again. The Judiciary Committee alone has held more than 20 hybrid hearings since the start of this pandemic. Many of these saw multiple Senators participating via videoconference. Some of them saw nominees participating by videoconference. At times, the Democratic members of the Committee have gone out of their way to praise this technology and the Chairman’s flexibility with this format. Across all our committees, we’ve had 150 hybrid hearings since the pandemic began. The Senate has used this format no fewer than 150 times. We have continued performing our constitutional duties while protecting health and safety during the pandemic. Our Democratic colleagues have largely welcomed this approach and they have frequently taken advantage of it. So whatever mix proves to be the right decision at this time next week, it will be completely consistent with the Committee’s own precedent, and with the ways committees across the Senate have adapted and done their work throughout this pandemic.
Our whole society is using these tools. Earlier today the Supreme Court itself resumed conducting oral arguments via teleconference, as it has done since the spring. The Senate has been using these processes for months. Just yesterday, the ranking member of the Rules Committee reminded the country that she helped set them up. It is nonsense for Senate Democrats to turn on a dime and now pretend these procedures are no longer workable. It is nonsense to suggest that the tools that Senate Democrats have been happily using across all our committees for months have suddenly gone bad overnight. Nobody is taking these disingenuous tactics at face value. Because the Democrats have told everyone, out loud, about their real intentions. For weeks now, numerous Senate Democrats have publicly promised they would try every trick in the book, every maneuver available, to obstruct and delay a fair confirmation process...Our Democratic colleagues have admitted out loud what all these stalling tactics are about. Senate Democrats have openly admitted they are grasping at straws to block this exceedingly well-qualified nominee from receiving a fair and prompt process. We have months of experience governing this way while protecting health and safety within the Senate. This body will not cease to function just because Democrats are afraid they may lose a vote.
Another complaint we've heard from Democrats is that it's wrong for Republicans to focus on filling a Supreme Court vacancy while Congress has failed to pass another round of needed Coronavirus relief legislation. But every Senate Democrat now griping about this participated in a filibuster to kill such legislation a few weeks ago, refusing to take it up, debate it, or amend it. Negotiations are still ongoing, and it's important that the American people get more assistance, but the notion that all other Senate business -- especially timely and hugely consequential business -- must grind to a halt in the meantime is patently absurd. It's not subtle what the Democrats are trying to do, which is why Graham and McConnell are correct to pursue the course of action they've laid out. In the meantime, it's imperative that Senators remain healthy, and that leadership crafts a strategy to allow any members battling or recovering from the virus to cast votes when the time comes. It sounds like they'll be highly motivated to do so:
NEW: Wisconsin U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson says he'll vote to confirm SCOTUS nominee Amy Coney Barrett even if he's still testing positive.— Theo Keith (@TheoKeith) October 5, 2020
"If we have to go in and vote, I've already told leadership I’ll go in a moon suit," Johnson says on talk radio.https://t.co/ObHiW5eLkb
Be sure to read Rich Lowry's piece laying out how feeble the Left's attacks on Judge Barrett have been thus far. I'll leave you with a new ad supporting her confirmation (AFP is also getting heavily involved on her behalf), as well as our segment debating the timeline and Democratic delay tactics on Fox News last night:
Three parting points for Ethan, who wouldn't directly answer Shannon's last question: This isn't just about indisputable constitutional prerogative, but also clear historical precedent and norms -- not to mention the results of three most recent national elections. Also, if he's concerned about "scorched earth" tactics on judicial nominations, history demonstrates that he needs to point the finger of blame squarely at his own party. Finally, in response to his jab about LGBTQ rights, read this.