On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court at its Executive Business Meeting amid a vote by Democrats to skip Thursday’s markup in protest at how fast the Republicans are getting to Election Day.
Barrett was favorably reported out of the Judiciary Committee by 12-0, with no Democrats present.
“That was their choice. It will be my choice to vote the nominee out of committee,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said at the beginning of the meeting. “We are not going to allow them to take over the committee. They made a choice not to participate.”
Graham also blasted Democrats on Thursday for supposedly initiating the process that led to a rise in the politicization of the Supreme Court during the Obama administration by withdrawing the filibuster for lower federal court nominations.
“I remember telling Sen. Schumer you will regret this,” Graham said Thursday of when Democrats got rid of the judicial filibuster. “Today he will regret it.”
The acrimony surrounding judicial appointments, of course, can be traced back to the appointment of Judge Robert Bork in the 1980s and has contributed, among other things, to the decision of the Republicans to keep the seat of late Justice Antonin Scalia open for months prior to the 2016 presidential election.
The move follows a remark by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., earlier this month that Democrats will not “supply the quorum” for votes like the one scheduled for Thursday to move Barrett out of committee. So it’s not an utter surprise, but the other Democrats in the Judiciary Committee did not announce their boycott until late Wednesday.
They said they are making the move in response to the “breakneck speed” at which Republicans are moving to “jam through this nominee” and that Republicans broke “longstanding committee rules to set tomorrow’s vote.”
Graham said Wednesday, however, that Barrett would obtain a vote in spite of the rules of the committee requiring at least two members of the minority party to be present for the Committee on Business Transaction. Graham added on “Fox & Friends” Thursday before the hearing that he would waive the rules of the committee in order to report on Barrett ‘s appointment.
“Under the committee rules you need two members of the minority to conduct business,” Graham said. “But they’re intentionally denying us that participation. They’re boycotting the committee. So what I will do as chairman there will be a majority of the committee present. We will waive that rule. We will report Judge Barrett out. She will go to the floor. And hopefully, by Monday or Tuesday, she will be on the court.”
“Judge Barrett deserves a vote and she will receive a vote,” Graham said in a statement Wednesday. “Judge Barrett deserves to be reported out of committee and she will be reported out of committee. Judge Barrett deserves to be on the Supreme Court and she will be confirmed.”
Graham added: “As to my Democratic colleagues’ refusal to attend the markup, that is a choice they are making. I believe it does a disservice to Judge Barrett who deserves a vote, up or down.”
When asked Wednesday whether two members of the minority party had to be present at the markup for a vote to happen on Barrett, Graham replied that they do not.
“We will not grant this process any further legitimacy by participating in a committee markup of this nomination just twelve days before the culmination of an election that is already underway,” Schumer and the Judiciary Committee Democrats said in a statement announcing the boycott.
“Republicans broke the promises they made and rules they created when they blocked Merrick Garland’s nomination for eight months under President Obama. Then, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said that ‘the American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice,'” the statement also said. “Now, Republicans have moved at breakneck speed to jam through this nominee, ignoring her troubling record and unprecedented evasions, and breaking longstanding committee rules to set tomorrow’s vote.”