Democratic senators on Monday painted President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett as a threat to the Obamacare healthcare law and denounced the Republican drive to approve her before the Nov. 3 U.S. election as the Senate Judiciary Committee began her four-day confirmation hearing.
While they have little hope of derailing her nomination in the Republican-led Senate, Democrats pressed their opposition to Barrett, whose confirmation would give the court a 6-3 conservative majority that could lead to rulings rolling back abortion rights, expanding religious and gun rights, and upholding voting restrictions, among other issues.
It was the fate of the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA), Democratic former President Barack Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement that has enabled millions of Americans to obtain medical coverage, that was the focus of the Democrats. Barrett has criticized a 2012 Supreme Court ruling authored by conservative Chief Justice John Roberts that upheld Obamacare.
Barrett, a conservative appellate court judge picked by Trump to replace the late liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, sat at a table facing the senators wearing a black face mask amid a coronavirus pandemic that has killed roughly 215,000 Americans. Her husband and seven children sat behind her, also wearing protective masks.
“It’s beyond ironic that this administration, which has failed to respond to this pandemic, is rushing through a judge they believe will vote to strip away health protections,” Democratic Senator Chris Coons said.
Barrett could be on the Supreme Court in time to participate in a case due to be argued on Nov. 10 in which Trump, running for re-election against Democratic challenger Joe Biden, and other Republicans are seeking to invalidate Obamacare.
“This well could mean that if Judge Barrett is confirmed, Americans stand to lose the benefits that the ACA provides,” said Senator Dianne Feinstein, the senior Democrat on the committee.
The hearing started with senators making opening statements. Barrett will make her own opening statement later on Monday and will face questioning from senators on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The hearing is a key step before a full Senate vote by the end of October on her confirmation to a lifetime job on the court. Republicans have a 53-47 Senate majority so Barrett’s confirmation seems almost certain.