Senate Democrats defended their boycotting of the Judiciary Committee meeting Thursday on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, saying Senate Republicans have carried out an illegitimate process in their swift moves to confirm Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.
Recognizing they did not have the votes in the committee to stop the nominee from advancing to the full Senate for a confirmation vote on Monday, they chose to fill their seats with photographs of Americans they say have high stakes in a 6-3 conservative majority high court. The photos were of Americans that could lose their health care if the high court strikes down the Affordable Care Act.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, New York Democrat, called the committee’s vote a “sham” and said Republicans broke the committee rules and precedent by moving forward with the nominee just days before an election, noting the Senate has never processed a high court nominee this close to a presidential election.
“This is the culmination of a decades-long effort to skew the court to the far-right,” he said.
Democrats claimed under the rules, at least two members of the minority party had to be present for the vote. They also say Senate Republicans set a principle in 2016 by not moving forward with a high court nominee during an election year.
But Senate Republicans have reasoned 2016 was different because the president and the Senate were controlled by different parties. They also said the committee could vote out the nominee for the full Senate to start debating the confirmation so long as a majority of the committee members were present, noting that has happened seven times in the committee’s recent history.
The 12 Republicans on the committee voted to elevate the nominee, reporting out Judge Barrett 12-0 on Thursday.
“Democrats will not lend a single ounce of legitimacy to this awful, awful hearing. We are voting with our feet. We are standing together and we are standing against the is unprecedented, mad rush to jam through a nomination just days, days before an election,” Mr. Schumer added.
California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said they’ll continue to raise flags about what a soon to be Justice Barrett could do to American lives once confirmed to the bench, recognizing Democrats do not have the votes to stop the GOP majority from confirming Judge Barrett on Monday.
“Between now and then, Democrats on this committee and across this caucus will continue to make the case about what is at stake for the American people when Judge Barrett is confirmed,” she said.
Democrats have claimed she could strike down the Affordable Care Act, limit women’s reproductive freedoms and roll back civil rights.
Protesters yelled, “Trump-Pence out now,” as the Democrats spoke on the steps of the U.S. Capitol.
U.S. Capitol Police arrested six individuals Thursday morning ahead of the committee’s vote, charging them with unlawfully demonstrating.