GOP pushes Barrett toward court as Democrats decry 'sham'

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Committee Chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., stands with Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, left, in front of Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, during the confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Kevin Dietsch/Pool via AP)

WASHINGTON – Republicans powered Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett closer to confirmation Thursday, pushing past Democratic objections and other priorities during the COVID-19 crisis in the drive to seat President Donald Trump's pick before the Nov. 3 election.

The Senate Judiciary Committee set Oct. 22 for its vote to recommend Barrett’s nomination to the full Senate, with a final confirmation vote expected by month’s end.

“A sham,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. “Power grab,” protested Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. “Not normal," said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.

“You don't convene a Supreme Court confirmation hearing, in the middle of a pandemic, when the Senate's on recess, when voting has already started in the presidential election in a majority of states,” declared Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del.

Republicans eager to fill the seat of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg countered that Trump is well within bounds to fill the vacancy, and they have the votes to do it. Relying on a slim Senate majority, Trump's Republicans are poised to lock a 6-3 conservative court majority for years to come.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said he understands Democrats' “disappointment." He said, "Their loss is the American people's gain.”

Barrett's confirmation would bring the most pronounced ideological change on the court in 30 years, from the liberal icon Ginsburg to the conservative appeals court judge from Indiana. The shift is poised to launch a new era of court rulings on abortion, voting rights and other matters that are now open to new uncertainty.

The 48-year-old Barrett was careful during two days of public testimony not to tip her views on many issues, or take on the president who nominated her. Facing almost 20 hours of questions from senators, she declined to offer specifics beyond a vow to keep an open mind and take the cases as they come.