After a hearing marked by polarization between Republicans and Democrats, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted Thursday to move the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the full Senate, with a confirmation vote scheduled for Monday.
The committee sent the nomination to the Senate floor with a 12-0 vote. The 10 Democratic members boycotted the vote because they did not want to grant the rushed process “any further legitimacy” less than two weeks before the election, noting that Republicans refused to consider President Barack Obama's nominee to the high court in 2016 even though the seat he sought to fill became vacant far earlier in an election year. They also said Barrett will try to undo much of what her liberal predecessor Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg stood for.
"Amidst a global pandemic and ongoing election, Republicans are rushing to confirm a Supreme Court Justice to take away health care from millions and execute the extreme and deeply unpopular agenda that they've been unable to get through Congress,” Senate Democrats wrote in a statement.
Barrett got the support of all Republican committee members, including Texans John Cornyn and Ted Cruz. Both have been supporters of the nomination since President Donald Trump announced the pick on Sept. 26.
During the four-day hearing last week, Cruz railed against the idea of Democrats court packing, or increasing the size of the Supreme Court to allow for more liberal justices, which some Democrats are advocating for if the party assumes control of the Senate in the upcoming election. He objected to the idea that Republicans have been court packing by quickly confirming judges to fill vacancies during the Trump administration.
“What we’ve seen this past week is, we’ve seen with a messaged discipline that is really quite remarkable, Democratic senators all making a new argument: that what Republicans have done for four years is packing the court. With all due respect, what utter nonsense," Cruz said. "Filling judicial vacancies is not what that term means and they are endeavoring to redefine the language to set the framework, to set the predicate for a partisan assault on the court."
With the backing of other Republicans, Cruz has unveiled two proposals intended to prevent the Democrats from court packing. The first is a constitutional amendment barring the expansion of seats on the court and the second would bar any proposals considering extending the number of seats unless it received the support of two-thirds of the Senate.
Cornyn, who is running for reelection this year, received attention during the hearing when he asked Barrett to hold up her notepad, which was blank. He called her ability to answer senators’ questions without notes “pretty impressive.”
Both Cornyn and Cruz previously voted to confirm Trump’s nominees Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.