Democrats centered extra on the Affordable Care Act, and Trump’s backing of a lawsuit that will invalidate the legislation — a listening to scheduled for November 10. Republicans defended the choice to substantiate Barrett so near the election and sought to preempt any questions on her Catholic religion, primarily by criticizing Democratic feedback from 2017.
In truth, viewers could be forgiven in the event that they forgot at occasions that this was a Supreme Court affirmation reasonably than a political conference.
Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham acknowledged the elephant within the room on the outset of a four-day affirmation listening to course of: Nobody’s thoughts on the committee goes to be modified by what transpires within the Senate listening to room.
“This is probably not about persuading each other, unless something really dramatic happens,” Graham mentioned. “All Republicans will vote yes, and all Democrats will vote no.”
As a end result, either side have a transparent eye to the election three weeks away as they debate the Supreme Court nominee — and as they may query Barrett over the subsequent two days.
Democrats put their clear give attention to the menace Obamacare faces when a Republican-led, and Trump-backed, case to strike it down goes earlier than the Supreme Court only a week after the election. The message that well being care was in danger for thousands and thousands of Americans was one which helped Democrats win over voters throughout the 2018 election and take again the House.
“We all watched the hearings for Justice Kavanaugh,” mentioned Republican Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana. “It was a freak show. It looked like the Cantina Bar scene out of Star Wars.”
Dems make a private pitch to guard well being care
Democrats confirmed a united entrance and an organized, maybe stunning, message with posters scattered throughout their half of the dais displaying the faces of people that relied on the Affordable Care Act for his or her well being care.
A Democratic committee aide mentioned the choice to make use of private tales stemmed from an effort to to make Barrett’s affirmation as tangible to individuals as doable that centered on “the real-life effects of a Justice Barrett’s decisions.”
Democrats really feel the well being care angle, stressing Trump’s efforts and the impression of gutting Obamacare, is a transparent political winner. Democratic leaders, together with presidential nominee Joe Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer agreed on the technique, in keeping with sources aware of the discussions.
“They are trying to get a justice onto the Court in time to ensure they can strip away the protections in the Affordable Care Act,” Harris mentioned of Republicans. “If they succeed, it will result in millions of people losing access to health care at the worst possible time in the middle of a pandemic.”
Democrats additionally used their well being care argument to hit Trump on the Covid-19 pandemic, one other key Democratic message heading into the November election. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota made a private attraction after her husband examined constructive for coronavirus earlier this 12 months.
“He ended up in the hospital for a week on oxygen with severe pneumonia, and months after he got it, I find out the President knew it was airborne but he didn’t tell us,” Klobuchar mentioned.
Asked in regards to the Democrats’ unity after the listening to, Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin responded: “It’s a bit surprising yeah?”
Republicans search for openings to debate faith
Republicans of their opening statements criticized Democrats for earlier questions on Barrett’s Catholic religion and for tales about her affiliation with the Christian group People of Praise.
“There are places where this committee has acted like it’s the job of the committee to delve into people’s religious communities. That’s nuts,” mentioned Sen. Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican.
At Monday’s listening to, nonetheless, it was solely the Republicans, not Democrats, discussing faith. Barrett additionally nodded to her faith in her opening assertion, saying she believes within the energy of prayer.
Still, Republicans had loads of fodder from previous hearings to knock Democrats over, together with Barrett’s 2017 affirmation listening to for the federal appeals courtroom, resembling when the panel’s high Democrat, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, mentioned, “the dogma lives loudly within you.”
Sen. Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican, accused Democrats of a “pattern and practice of religious bigotry.”
The criticisms tied to religion had been extra in regards to the two days of inquiries to comply with than the opening day speeches, as Democrats are more likely to press Barrett on Roe v. Wade and different abortion circumstances.
Hawley claimed that the reference was “another hit at Judge Barrett’s religious faith, referring to Catholic doctrinal beliefs.” But it is a case that has been raised repeatedly at judicial affirmation hearings.
Covid looms over listening to
Three Republican senators have examined constructive for coronavirus over the previous two weeks, throwing into doubt what seemed to be a sure-thing affirmation.
That hazard for Republicans seems to have handed, for now, however the coronavirus menace nonetheless loomed over the listening to, as two of the Republicans who examined constructive are on the Judiciary Committee.
One of these senators, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, spoke remotely at Monday’s listening to. He has mentioned he expects to be there in individual on Tuesday. The different senator who examined constructive, Mike Lee of Utah, appeared in individual on Monday, saying he had been cleared by his physician to attend.
Democrats attacked Graham for shifting ahead with the listening to regardless of the constructive assessments — and never requiring assessments for all senators on the panel.
“This hearing itself is a microcosm of Trump’s dangerous ineptitude in dealing with the Covid pandemic,” charged Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat.
Graham defended the listening to, saying that strict well being protocols had been being adopted, arguing he was going to work to do his job similar to thousands and thousands of Americans. The setting meant no members of the general public might attend, a break from regular affirmation hearings, and senators had been unfold out throughout the cavernous listening to room.
The pandemic-era listening to additionally meant one different notable distention: Barrett was carrying a black masks all through the senators’ opening statements. Other Supreme Court nominees have wanted to maintain a straight face whereas they’re usually attacked, however Barrett’s expressions had been masked.
Barrett emphasizes expertise with Scalia
Barrett usually mentioned her authorized philosophy, which displays that of Scalia, her mentor and a conservative anchor of the excessive courtroom for years. “The policy decisions and value judgments of government must be made by the political branches elected by and accountable to the people,” Barrett mentioned.
She additionally touched on the dialogue surrounding her faith on the conclusion of her assertion. “I believe in the power of prayer, and it has been uplifting to hear that so many people are praying for me,” Barrett mentioned.
Monday’s listening to was a day of scripted rhetoric with speeches from senators and the nominee. The actual motion begins Tuesday with questions.
Senators will every get a half-hour to query Barrett on Tuesday and Wednesday, with Republicans and Democrats alternating turns. Then they may get one other 20 minutes for a second spherical. With 22 senators on the panel, each days will go into the night, representing Barrett’s hardest take a look at earlier than her affirmation to the excessive courtroom.
CNN’s Lauren Fox, Clare Foran and Manu Raju contributed to this report.