News and Commentary

GOP: If Dems Try To Delay SCOTUS Nomination, We’ll Just Confirm More Judges
Judge Amy Coney Barrett is nominated to the US Supreme Court by President Donald Trump in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC on September 26, 2020. - Barrett, if confirmed by the US Senate, will replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died on September 18.

If Democrats follow through on plans to delay hearings on the Supreme Court nomination using procedural tactics, Republicans say they’ll simply push through more federal judges, leaving Dems with the choice of confirming Amy Coney Barrett to the nation’s highest court or fighting dozens of lower-level nominations.

POLITICO reports that while Democrats “cannot stop Barrett’s nomination,” they can use a number of procedural tactics to limit Senate Judiciary Committee hearings to two hours or less, leaving the GOP scrambling to complete the nomination process ahead of the November presidential elections.

If the Democrats take that route, the GOP has two options. They can string out the hearings, holding them on a protracted timeline that does not allow them to meet their goal of having Barrett confirmed by Halloween, or they can pull all Senate Republicans back to Washington, D.C., to hold an immediate up or down vote — something Democrats reportedly hope will take key, vulnerable Republican Senators off the campaign trail.

The GOP, though, is considering a third option: answering Democrats’ procedural tactics with some of their own, holding up-or-down votes on dozens of pending nominations to lower court seats and open administration positions until Democrats acquiesce and allow the GOP to hold complete Senate nomination hearings.

“We’re prepared for that if they decide they want to use motions to adjourn or try and use the tools at their disposal to keep us here, that’s fine,” Sen. Jon Thune (R-ND) told media Tuesday. “But that keeps them here too and what that means is we’ll do more judges and more executive nominations that those guys don’t like.”

Democrats have struggled with how to respond to the Barrett nomination, first threatening to respond by “packing” the Supreme Court with additional justices if they find themselves in control of both the White House and the Senate after the November elections, then suggesting they’d press for term limits for future Supreme Court nominees. Progressive activists resorted, briefly, to attacking Barrett’s faith, family, and record before they were shut down by more mainstream, moderate forces who understood the possible fallout from questioning Barrett’s Catholic bona fides and her large family.

Now, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is urging a two-pronged approach: refuse to meet with Barrett privately ahead of her official nomination hearings, and focus concerns about Barrett’s record on health care and her potential impact on the existing Affordable Care Act, up for oral arguments in front of the court in November.

The plan is a double-edged sword. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) noted last week that if Barrett has fewer private meetings, her public hearings can begin sooner, and Barrett’s only record on the ACA involves criticism of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts’ decision to recast the insurance mandate as a “tax” — a legal approach shared by many of Roberts’ critics and a number of legal scholars.

Barrett’s official hearings are set to begin October 12, and the GOP believes she will be on the Court before the end of October.