Amy Coney Barrett is guaranteed a positive recommendation to the full Senate for her confirmation as a Supreme Court Justice at Thursday’s Judiciary Committee meeting. But committee Democrats aren’t going to be there to witness their defeat, as Jennifer Bendery reports:
Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee plan to boycott Thursday’s committee vote on Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination as a protest against Republican efforts to rush her through before the election …
Democrats also intend to hold two press conferences to push back on Barrett’s confirmation ― one on the Capitol steps and one on the Supreme Court steps. They will go to one or both of these pressers during the committee vote, according to [a] Democratic aide.
Their chairs in the committee room won’t be empty, however:
The plan hasn’t been finalized yet, according to a Democratic aide, but Democrats are preparing to fill their empty seats with poster-sized photos of people who would be hurt by Barrett potentially casting a deciding vote against the Affordable Care Act. These would be the same pictures of people Democrats had on display during Barrett’s confirmation hearing last week.
In part, then, Democrats are planning to use this final phase of the committee segment of the confirmation process to press home the Obamacare-centered argument they dwelled on during the hearings. This is based on the fact that the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in California v. Texas, a Trump-administration-backed suit brought by Republican attorneys general to challenge the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, on November 10.
But the unusual gesture of a boycott is also probably intended as a response to criticism from their own supporters that Judiciary Democrats rolled over and didn’t do enough to dramatize the illegitimacy of the proceedings, as compared to the refusal of Senate Republicans in 2016 to give even a hearing to Obama nominee Merrick Garland. Ranking minority member Dianne Feinstein was a particular lightning rod for progressive unhappiness after she praised Judiciary Committee Republicans and Barrett herself for “one of the best set of hearings I’ve participated in,” and for good measure gave committee chairman Lindsey Graham a big hug after he concluded the session. The optics were so bad that Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer let it be known he had treated the 87-year-old Californian to a “long and serious talk.”
Feinstein famously wasn’t born yesterday, so I’m sure she got the message and won’t show up to blow kisses to Barrett as Republicans gavel the judge through to her final reckoning with the full Senate. All those seats filled with photos of people relying on Obamacare will certainly spoil any triumphant photo ops Graham hopes to stage.