Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) made good on his promise to schedule a formal hearing on Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court. On Monday, the Senate Judiciary Committee announced that Barrett’s hearing will begin on Monday, October 12, 2020, at 9 am.
“The Senate Committee on the Judiciary has scheduled a hearing on the nomination of the Honorable Amy Coney Barrett to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States to begin Monday, Oct. 12 at 9:00 am & continue through Thursday, Oct. 15,” the committee tweeted Monday, alongside an official statement and calendar item.
The hearing is set to last just four days before Barrett’s nomination is expected to be put to a committee vote. From there, Barrett’s nomination will go to the full Senate floor — and Republicans expect that Barrett will be confirmed by a straight party-line vote and on the court by November 1, just ahead of the presidential election.
A rash of COVID-19 diagnoses left the Senate’s ability to conduct business in question last week, as did a weekend decision by McConnell largely halting Senate business for at least 14 days while several key Republicans who tested positive for the virus self-quarantine. McConnell noted, however, that despite Senate business being delayed, Barrett’s confirmation hearings would proceed as expected.
“The timeline of Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearing was thrown into question Friday after two Republican senators on the Judiciary Committee tested positive for COVID-19: Mike Lee of Utah and Thom Tillis of North Carolina,” USA Today reported Friday. “Both attended a Rose Garden ceremony announcing President Donald Trump’s choice of Barrett to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the high court. Several people in attendance, including the president, have since tested positive for COVID-19.”
Democrats, who were already working to delay or derail Barrett’s confirmation, objected to McConnell’s decision, calling it irresponsible and insisting any Senate business should be suspended until the viral threat passed. McConnell, however, said in a statement that the Senate could use the “hybrid model” of deliberation that the House has used since March — a plan constructed and deployed by Democratic lawmakers — to ensure Barrett receives a fast and fair hearing.
“Since May, the Judiciary Committee has operated flawlessly through a hybrid method that has seen some Senators appear physically at its hearings while other members have participated virtually,” McConnell said in a written statement. “The Committee has utilized this format successfully for many months while protecting the health and safety of all involved. Certainly, all Republican members of the committee will participate in these important hearings.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer responded Monday by saying that he and other Democrats planned to use “every tool in the toolbox” to delay Barrett’s hearings.
“The idea of having virtual hearings where no one is with the witness for the highest court in the land for a life appointment that would have such effect on people’s lives makes no sense. A virtual hearing is virtually no hearing at all,” Schumer said in a statement.
Barrett herself has tested negative for the coronavirus though she and her husband reportedly contracted COVID-19 earlier in the summer, giving them some immunity.