Here is Why Judiciary Republicans Broke No Rules in Holding Vote on Judge Barrett as Dems Boycotted

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Posted: Oct 22, 2020 11:15 AM
Here is Why Judiciary Republicans Broke No Rules in Holding Vote on Judge Barrett as Dems Boycotted

Source: Erin Scott/Pool via AP

Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee boycotted the committee’s vote to advance Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination early on Thursday morning. Led by Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Republicans on the committee were able to hold the vote without the minority party members present, per committee and Senate rules.

The committee’s rules allowed Sen. Graham to hold a vote on reporting Judge Barrett’s nomination to the full Senate, as he was able to retain quorum even with Democrats’ boycott of committee business. The rules permit the reporting of nominations as long as a majority of the committee, regardless of party, is physically present. All 12 GOP members showed up to advance Judge Barrett’s nomination out of committee. 

The Senate’s rules, which govern the committee voting process, also validate Sen. Graham holding his committee's vote on Judge Barrett. The rules prohibit a point of order from being raised on the Senate floor regarding committee occurrences, as long as a majority of committee members were physically present and a majority voted “yes” on the action at hand, both of which occurred under Sen. Graham’s leadership on Thursday morning.

“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,” Senate Standing Rule XXVI.7(a)(3) reads. “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.”

Senate Democrats held a press conference after they staged a boycott of the committee’s vote. They claimed that Republicans violated rules, procedure, and precedent, calling the markup “illegitimate,” but their claims are not based in fact or validated by Senate rules. 

The committee’s Democratic members’ boycott of the vote to put Judge Barrett on the Senate floor only made advancing her nomination easier. Despite opposition from the Senate’s minority party, Judge Barrett will receive a vote on the Senate floor on Monday afternoon.