- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 11, 2020

Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett will channel her mentor, the late Justice Antonin Scalia, at her confirmation hearing Monday, offering his conservative judicial philosophy as a yardstick for senators to evaluate her qualifications.

Senate Democrats, however, don’t want another Scalia on the bench and will have their rhetorical knives out in an effort to cut down President Trump’s pick for the high court.

Judge Barrett said she will honor Scalia’s approach to the law, noting that in her time clerking for Scalia, she learned that “a judge must apply the law as written, not as the judge wishes it were.”

“In every case, I have carefully considered the arguments presented by the parties, discussed the issues with my colleagues on the court, and done my utmost to reach the result required by the law, whatever my own preferences might be,” she will say, according to her four-page prepared remarks that were obtained by The Washington Times.

Judge Barrett, who sits on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, will face the Senate Judiciary Committee for several days this week in one of the most contentious job interviews in Washington.

Democrats have called for a delay of the confirmation hearings after two of the Republican lawmakers on the committee contracted COVID-19.

Despite the illnesses, Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, will gavel in Monday morning from the hearing room in person, along with Judge Barrett.

“We are going to do what every American has to do come Monday: go to work, safely,” Mr. Graham said on “Fox News Sunday.”

He said the hearing room will comply with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Anyone who has a concern about showing up can virtually interview Judge Barrett,” he added.

Senate Republicans claim to have the votes to confirm Judge Barrett by the end of the month or just days before the Nov. 3 elections.

Sen. Susan M. Collins of Maine and Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska are the only Republicans who have broken party ranks to oppose moving forward with the president’s pick.

The two Republican senators have argued, along with most Democrats, that whoever wins Nov. 3 should fill the seat left vacant by the death of the Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

It’s the same position Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden has taken.

Democrats fear a 6-3 conservative majority on the high court and liberals in the party have pushed to pack the court with more judges if Mr. Biden wins in November.

Mr. Biden has refused to say whether he would do that, despite speaking out against court-packing during the Democratic primary last year.

His deputy campaign manager, Kate Bedingfield, said it is a hypothetical that Republicans are using to try to distract from their rush to confirm Judge Barrett.

“Donald Trump and the Republicans don’t get to set the terms of this debate,” she told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “What we should be focused on is the vote on Nov. 3 and making sure they don’t have the opportunity to ram through a nominee.”

Democrats on the committee plan to attack Judge Barrett over her view of the Affordable Care Act, which is being heard by the high court in a legal challenge over the individual mandate on Nov. 10.

Sen. Mazie K. Hirono, a Hawaii Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, told CNN that she won’t target Judge Barrett’s Catholic faith, which has been a lightning rod for liberals who fear she will help roll back abortion rights. Rather, Ms. Hirono will press the nominee on health care.

During her confirmation for the 7th Circuit in 2017, Democrats on the committee did attack Judge Barrett’s religion. The top Democrat on the committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, told her the Catholic “dogma” lived loudly within her.

Critics of Judge Barrett have homed in on her criticism from her time as a law professor at Notre Dame University of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.’s 2012 opinion upholding the Affordable Care Act as a tax.

Ms. Hirono said if voters are made aware that health care is at stake, as well as women’s reproductive rights, it could persuade more Republican senators to vote against the nominee. At this point, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, can afford no more than two additional defections.

“If we can get two more Republicans to have that courage, we can stop her,” said Ms. Hirono.

Sen. Richard J. Durbin, an Illinois Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said the political stakes could peel off Republican votes. He noted that Republican committee members John Cornyn of Texas, Joni Ernst of Iowa and Mr. Graham are in tight reelection races.

“If two more join them, then it’s game over,” Mr. Graham said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “We’re making a point that this not only has an impact on the lives of so many innocent Americans, it could impact the members of this committee.”

Ms. Feinstein, meanwhile, demanded that the Justice Department provide senators information not included in Judge Barrett’s questionnaire submitted for the hearing.

Ms. Feinstein said the nominee’s paperwork is missing material related to her work in a Pennsylvania hospital bankruptcy case and an advertisement from 2006 related to opposing Roe v. Wade.

“These new omissions also raise serious concerns about Judge Barrett’s rushed confirmation process and the hasty process of collecting materials,” the Democratic senators, led by Ms. Feinstein, wrote in their letter to Attorney General William Barr. “Please immediately provide an explanation for the omission of these materials and please provide any other responsive materials that have not been disclosed by Judge Barrett.”


• Alex Swoyer can be reached at aswoyer@washingtontimes.com.

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