Mike Pence and Mitch McConnell hosted a meeting for Republican lawmakers to sit down with Amy Coney Barrett on Capitol Hill Tuesday as she prepares for a swift but controversial nomination process.
‘[Barrett will] be visiting with members who are interested in talking to her during the course of the next few days. And we’re glad to have her here and get the process started,’ Senate Majority Leader McConnell told a group of press gathered in the Mansfield Meeting Room.
Ahead of the private meetings on Tuesday, Vice President Pence called for a ‘respectful hearing’ for Barrett.
Democrats, however, are split on how to handle the nomination – with some claiming they will not even meet with Barrett, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
‘I am not going to meet with Judge Barrett. Why would I meet with a nominee of such an illegitimate process and one who is determined to get rid of the Affordable Care Act?’ Schumer tweeted Tuesday.
Some claim Trump is ‘hurrying’ Barrett’s nomination process because he wants her to be seated on the Supreme Court to help strike down Obamacare, as oral arguments for the case will begin at the highest court in November.
White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows were standing behind Pence during his short remarks for the media as Barrett stood at a distance between them and McConnell.
my Coney Barrett (center), accompanied by White House Counsel Pat Cipollone (left) and Vice President Mike Pence (right), arrived on Capitol Hill Tuesday to meet with Republican senators
First meeting: This is the first time Barrett will meet with lawmakers after being nominated to the Supreme Court
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows (right) also tagged along for the meetings
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (right) and Pence made brief remarks for the media in the Mansfield Meeting Room before closing the doors for private meetings between Barrett and Republican senators
‘She’ll be visiting with members who are interested in talking to her during the course of the next few days. And we’re glad to have her here and get the process started,’ McConnell said
Pence called for a ‘respectful hearing’ as several Democrats already claim they will not meet with the judge
‘We look forward, our entire team leader, to working with you, Republicans in the Senate and, we hope, Democrats in the Senate, as well, as you discharge your duty to advise consent,’ Pence said.
‘We truly do believe that Judge Barrett represents the best of America,’ he told select press allowed in ahead of the meeting.
Barrett did not make any remarks and no one commented as a member of the press asked if the judge should recuse herself from any cases related to the 2020 election if she were confirmed ahead of Election Day.
Several Democrats already say they will refuse to meet with the federal judge, claiming Barrett’s nomination is ‘illegitimate’ and a ‘sham.’
But that doesn’t matter, as Senate Republicans have the votes to confirm Barrett – giving Trump an unprecedented three Supreme Court nominations in the first term of his presidency.
On Barrett’s meeting docket for today are Republican Senators Mike Crapo of Idaho, who was first up; Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who is President Pro Tempore of the Senate; Ted Cruz of Texas; John Thune of South Dakota; Mike Lee of Utah; Rick Scott of South Carolina, who is the only black Republican senator; and Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.
‘It’s the start of a very long process, but went well,’ Meadows told reporters after the remarks as he left Barrett along with Crapo.
Following Cruz’s meeting with Barrett, press were escorted into the Mansfield Meeting Room to hear from the Texas senator and Supreme Court nominee.
Following her private meeting with Ted Cruz, the Texas senator said Barrett should ‘of course not’ recuse herself from any election-related Supreme Court cases that may come up after her confirmation
Cruz, who was once floated as one of the people Trump was considering to nominate, said he ‘unfortunately’ expects attacks from Democrats, vowing to fight off any ‘personal smears that marred the [Brett] Kavanaugh confirmation.’
He also was one of the only senators to respond when asked whether Barrett should recuse herself from any election-related Supreme Court cases.
‘Of course not, that the entire reason the Senate should act and should act promptly to confirm a ninth justice is so the Supreme Court can resolve any cases that arise in the wake of the election,’ Cruz told reporters. ‘This election is a closely contested election. Joe Biden has already stated that if he doesn’t win, he intends to contest the legitimacy of the election.’
‘It would be inappropriate for them to recuse themselves because justices are not political agents for whatever political – whatever president happened to nominate them, or whatever Senate happened to confirm them,’ he continued.
Graham announced Sunday that the confirmation process for Barrett will begin on October 12. He also said they would then bring her nomination to the Senate floor by October 22 – signaling a confirmation vote before Halloween.
Two Republicans, Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, say they will not vote to confirm Barrett. But the GOP still has the simple majority votes needed.
The two dissenting Republicans, as well as many Democrats, cite their opposition to Barrett’s nomination as being set on an apparent precedent from 2016 when the GOP-majority Senate refused to move forward with then-President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nomination months before the presidential election.
Besides Schumer, those Democrats already saying they will not meet with Barrett include Senators Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut.
‘I will not meet with Judge Amy Coney Barrett,’ Senator Kirsten Gillibrand asserted in a tweet Sunday afternoon. ‘This nomination process is illegitimate. I refuse to participate in the further degradation of our democracy and our judiciary.’
Blumenthal said in his own string of tweets: ‘I will oppose the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett, as I would any nominee proposed as part of this illegitimate sham process, barely one month before an election as Americans are already casting their votes. Americans deserve a voice in this hugely consequential decision’
‘Judge Barrett’s views would harm real lives—real people—in real ways, from children with pre-existing conditions to women who just want to be able to decide when & how to have a family,’ he continued. ‘I’m fighting for them.’
Blumenthal and Hirono agreed that Barrett was chosen by President Trump because of her ‘commitment to striking down the Affordable Care Act’ and ‘overturning Roe v. Wade.’
‘I will not support the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court for the following reasons: She will vote to strike down the Affordable Care Act after being rushed on the Supreme Court in time to hear the case on November 10. Millions of Americans will lose their health care – catastrophic in the middle of a pandemic,’ Hirono tweeted.
She shared her second reason as part of her Twitter thread Sunday: ‘She has a long history of being anti-choice and an explicit willingness to reverse SC precedent – endangering the protections of Roe v Wade. A woman’s right to control her own body is at stake.’
On the other hand, other Democratic senators, including Cory Booker of New Jersey, say they are open to meeting with Barrett.
President Donald Trump announced during a Rose Garden event Saturday his nomination of Barrett to fill the seat left vacant by Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
The 48-year-old Roman Catholic and mother of seven has also come under fire for her religion, as Democrats claim she will not be able to separate her devout religious beliefs from her rulings on the Supreme Court.
Opposition to confirmation: A crowd protesting Barrett’s nomination gathered outside of the Capitol on Tuesday as she met with Republican senators
The demonstrators, wearing all black, donned signs around their necks reading: ‘Remember Ruth & Breonna: Rise Up & Vote’
Trump picked Barrett to fill the vacant Supreme Court seat left open by Ruth Bader Ginsburg (pictured), who died at 87 earlier this month due to complications from pancreatic cancer
They specifically cite a woman’s right to choose to have a doctor terminate their pregnancy, and say Barrett’s confirmation would threaten potential overture of the landmark decision in Roe v. Wade.
The Supreme Court seat opened earlier this month with the death of the 87-year-old Justice Ginsburg – who passed after years of health issues especially related to her battle with pancreatic cancer.
The most liberal justice’s granddaughter said Ginsburg’s dying wish was that she be replaced by the next president, and not Trump.
The justice’s granddaughter said Ginsburg’s dying wish was that she be replaced by the next president, and not Trump.
Barrett’s confirmation would create a stark change in the Supreme Court as the most liberal justice, who was Jewish, would be replaced with a staunch conservative and Catholic.
Her nomination would also bring the count of Catholics on the nine-Justice Supreme Court to six.
Justice Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan are Jewish and while Justice Neil Gorsuch, also a Trump nominee, was raised Catholic, he is a practicing Episcopalian.
Barrett’s faith will also likely play a role in her forthcoming Judiciary Committee hearings next month as she is a member of the People of Praise, a small Catholic group that teaches husbands are the heads of the family.
Members of the group swear a loyalty oath, which some legal scholars have found problematic in raising questions about a judge’s impartiality and independence.
During Barrett’s 2017 confirmation hearings for a seat on the Chicago-based 7th Circuit Court, she testified that while she was a devout Catholic, those views wouldn’t bleed into her decisions on the bench.
Senator Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, famously told Barrett, ‘The dogma lives loudly within you.’