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Nate Jackson / Oct. 16, 2020

ACB Hearings: Wrap-Up and a Looming Scheme

Democrats may have one more obstruction card up their sleeves.

It’s all over but the crying. Democrats have little recourse to prevent the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. That doesn’t mean they won’t try.

In 2013, then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid nuked the filibuster for judicial nominees, though Democrats retained it for the Supreme Court. “You’ll regret this,” then Minority Leader Mitch McConnell warned, “and you may regret this a lot sooner than you think.”

That “sooner than you think” came in 2017, when Democrats chose to filibuster Neil Gorsuch because they were bitter that Republicans had refused to even hold hearings for Merrick Garland the previous year. Sure enough, Majority Leader McConnell gave Democrats a dose of their own medicine, eliminating the filibuster even for SCOTUS nominees.

The move left Democrats unable to obstruct Gorsuch, and it later ensured they were unsuccessful in their attempt to character assassinate Brett Kavanaugh in 2018. Similarly, they’re without much hope for stopping Barrett now. “This goose is pretty much cooked,” lamented Cory Booker.

Politics ain’t bean bag, and both parties have escalated the fight over the Supreme Court. Then again, we say “both parties,” but the fault clearly lies with Democrats. Not only have they treated GOP nominees with grotesque contempt ever since defeating Robert Bork in 1987, but they have politicized the Court’s decisions and filled the federal bench with activist judges to do what Democrats cannot do at the ballot box or the halls of Congress.

During four days of hearings, Barrett displayed her stellar qualifications and amiable temperament — even eliciting mild praise from Democrats like Dianne Feinstein (her dogmatically anti-religious hot-mic moment notwithstanding). Yet Democrats have to be able to tell their radical base they did something to stop Barrett.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has just the thing: Democrats might once again break precedent and trash basic decency in the Senate by refusing to supply a quorum for a vote. Why? Barrett’s nomination, he says, is “illegitimate, dangerous, and unpopular.” Wrong, wrong, and wrong.

But will the scheme work? Power Line’s Paul Mirengoff doesn’t think so. “A quorum in the full Senate is 51 members,” he explains. “In the Judiciary Committee it’s nine members including two from the minority party.” Even so, “Republicans could work around this pretty easily.”

The GOP can either approve a discharge resolution relieving the Judiciary Committee of its authority on moving the nomination forward, or the committee itself can change its quorum rules. Schumer likely hopes to accomplish two things: First, push Republicans to make hardball moves that he can whine about to the Democrats’ Leftmedia super PAC to generate sympathy. Second, lay the groundwork for justifying packing the court next year by insisting that Republicans have unfairly “stolen two Supreme Court seats.”

That may work with Schumer’s base, but again, Barrett has proven herself thoroughly likable, and the spectacle of Democrats taking their ball and going home in order to prevent the Judiciary Committee from even voting on a qualified woman would be tough to spin, even with the might of the mainstream media behind them.

Finally, we’ll leave you with a quote from Barrett herself on the first day of hearings: “I interpret the Constitution as a law. That I interpret its text as text. And I understand it to have the meaning that it had at the time people ratified it. So that meaning doesn’t change over time, and it isn’t up to me to update or infuse my own policy views into it.” That, plain and simple, is a justice’s job. We look forward to seeing her do it.


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