Democrats Prepare Last-Ditch Effort To Derail Trump’s Supreme Court Nominee
Senate Democrats attend the confirmation hearing for Supreme Court candidate Amy Coney Barrett on Monday.
They are pinning their hopes on using the hearing to convince the public - and just enough Republican senators - that she is the wrong candidate at the wrong time.
It is an admittedly weak hand. They are only outnumbered. However, if they find ways to postpone a vote until after the November 3rd election, when Joe Biden could win the presidential election, there will be tremendous pressure on Republicans to let him fill the seat in 2021.
Democrats see public pressure as key to their strategy of derailing the process. They plan to appoint Barrett, who is currently a Conservative judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals, for her opposition to the Affordable Care Act, Roe v. Wade, gun restrictions, environmental regulations, and workers' rights to grill.
They will also point out that having a Supreme Court candidate re-elected weeks before a presidential election is unprecedented, and that the urgency is that President Donald Trump wants Barrett in court before November 3 if election results get tight and the Supreme Court has to declare the winner.
"You can expect ... the affordable care, the rush to fill this nomination, and the protection the president believes he is buying with this candidate is a starting point for virtually every Democratic senator on the committee," said Senator Dick Durbin ( D-Ill.), A member of the judiciary committee, told reporters on Friday.
"The most important thing we can do is create a case where Barrett is a radical who will end the Affordable Care Act," added Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Referring to the print campaign Democrats in 2017 who helped stop the Republicans' efforts to repeal the health bill.
Of course, the Democrats made similar arguments against Trump's previous two Supreme Court rulings, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, and they were upheld.
Some progressive groups and activists are angry that Democrats are even attending the hearing and accuse them of legitimizing a process that is far from legitimate. It didn't help that nearly all of the Democrats on the committee had courtesy talks with Barrett last week - a far cry from the Republicans' 2016 treatment of President Barack Obama's Supreme Court candidate, Merrick Garland, with whom they are not meeting wanted and for whom you refused to hold a hearing or vote.
"It's becoming increasingly clear that Democrats are not doing enough to show that this is an illegitimate trial with an illegitimate candidate," said Chris Kang of Demand Justice, a progressive advocacy group for justice. "It starts right at the top with Dianne Feinstein, who doesn't seem to be fighting as hard as we had hoped. When she and others talk to the candidate on the phone, it feels like normal there."
He added, "It is incredibly demoralizing to see these senators refusing to fight."
Zephyr Teachout, an associate law professor at Fordham Law School and a former Democratic nominee for Congress and New York Governor, agreed that the Democrats haven't done enough to try to disrupt the process.
"It's true that they are in a really difficult position and the odds are good, but the stakes are so high," said Teachout. “You should be in an absolute combat position in the war room and be actively manned around the clock, both in terms of procedures and communication. ... Instead, you have senators legitimizing this process by meeting with Barrett. It is the job of Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer to hold the caucus together and insist that this process is totally unlawful. "
Democrats on the committee who took calls with Barrett were Feinstein, Durbin and Sens. Patrick Leahy (Vt.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.), Chris Coons (Del.), And Cory Booker (N.J.). Sens. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) Did not.
"I refused to see Amy Barrett," Blumenthal told reporters last week. "It's a sham and an illegitimate process. ... I'll fight like hell. But I think ultimately we have to present our case to the American people so they can stand up to our Republican colleagues."
Senator Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Who is a member of the committee and is currently running for Vice President, also did not answer Barrett's call.
It is becoming increasingly clear that Democrats are not doing enough to show that this is an illegitimate process with an illegitimate candidate.
Chris Kang from Demand Justice
Adam Jentleson, a former top adviser to former Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Recently published an article setting out how Democrats could use Senate processes to delay the verification process. He said they should have boycotted the hearing altogether to show that this is not a normal process. Otherwise, they shouldn't have taken calls to Barrett.
"Courtesy meetings only benefit the candidate and Republicans," said Jentleson. "It legitimizes the process, and it doesn't matter how many angry tweets you send, if your actions show you consider them qualified and the process legitimate. It was a mistake."
Feinstein spokesman Tom Mentzer pushed back on the idea that Democrats are not doing enough to fight, saying it was to their advantage to attend the hearing.
"The Senators will clarify that this is not what they are used to and show what it is about and why the process is being abused by Republicans (health care, individual rights, etc.)," Mentzer said. "But simply put, there aren't any tools that haven't been used to slow down or block this process." The only way to win these fights is to win in November. "
Another Senate Democratic adviser, who asked for anonymity to speak freely, said it would be counterproductive for Democrats to boycott the hearing because "nothing stops Republicans from not even holding a hearing and voting three weeks in advance".
Democrats will almost certainly point out at the hearing that Barrett's affirmation is directly related to the fate of the Affordable Care Act. The Supreme Court is expected to bring a lawsuit about the constitutionality of the Health Act on November 10, a week after the election. Almost all legal experts think the case is frivolous, but it is still going to be tried, just as Barrett might get her seat.
In a press conference on Sunday in New York City, Schumer called on Barrett to withdraw from cases relating to Obamacare's constitutionality and any election-related litigation. Republicans have openly stated that Barrett needs to be vindicated in order to rule on cases related to the election result and are concerned about Democrats that she will help Trump stay in power. The judge declined to commit to rejecting election cases in her Senate questionnaire last month.
The Democrats planned to deny Republicans a quorum when voting on Barrett's nomination in the Judiciary Committee and Senate, Schumer said, as part of a procedural final attempt to slow their approval. Republicans can simply change the rules and move the nomination forward - as expected - but Democrats say such a move would only highlight the unprecedented nature of their appointment.
"She is rushing through to make decisions that she has apparently already made," added Schumer. This process is "illegitimate, dangerous and unpopular".
2 students, teachers tested positive at school attended by Amy Coney Barrett's children
Amy Coney Barrett pledges to obey the law, not the personal views in the opening statement
Read Amy Coney Barrett's prepared opening remarks for the Senate confirmation hearing
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This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.
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