Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said Monday that “there is nothing unconstitutional” or untoward about the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett.
As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Graham began the confirmation process Monday by saying that “we do have a country that needs to move forward.”
Graham noted that liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose seat Barrett was nominated to fill upon Ginsburg’s death, was confirmed 96-3 in bipartisan days Graham said are now long gone.
“What will happen is that my Democratic colleagues will say this has never been done, and they’re right in this regard. Nobody’s been confirmed in an election year past July,” he said.
“The bottom line is, Justice Ginsburg, when asked about this several years ago, said that a president serves for four years, not three,” Graham said. “There is nothing unconstitutional about this process.”
“This is a vacancy that has occurred through a tragic loss of a great woman, and we’re gonna fill that vacancy with another great woman,” Graham said. “The bottom line here is that the Senate is doing its duty constitutionally.”
“We can talk about history, but here’s the history as I understand it,” Graham said.
“There’s never been a situation where you had a president of one party and the senate of another, where the nominee, the replacement, was made in election year. It’s been over 140 years ago. I think there have been 19 vacancies filled in an election year, 17 of the 19 were confirmed to the court when the party of the president and the senate were the same,” he said.
Graham said the process always moves swiftly.
“In terms of timing, the hearing is starting 16 days after nomination. More than half of all Supreme Court hearings have been held within 16 days of the announcement of the nominee,” Graham said.
“I feel that we’re doing this constitutionally,” Graham said, noting that he expects arguments about the process from Senate Democrats.
Graham said the hearing is vital to prove Barrett is qualified.
“The bottom line is I think it’s important. This is a lifetime appointment. I would like the world and the country to know more about Judge Barrett. I’m proud of you. I’m proud of what you’ve accomplished and I think you’re a great choice by the president,” he said.
“This is probably not about persuading each other unless something really dramatic happens. All Republicans will vote yes, and all Democrats will vote no, and that will be the way the breakout of the vote,” he said.
Graham said the hearing is a chance for Democrats to more fully understand Barrett’s philosophy, regardless of how they stand politically on her nomination.
Graham has said he hopes Barrett will be confirmed this month.
“That’s my hope,” Graham added. “It will be up to Senator [Mitch] McConnell what do after the 22nd, but we can easily get her confirmed before the election.”https://t.co/2OTNJaiT4C
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) October 11, 2020
Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate. A simple majority is required for confirmation.
Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine has said she opposes moving forward with the confirmation process at this time, according to Fox News.
Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska initially said she opposed the confirmation process, but later indicated that her disfavor with moving forward might not automatically lead to a vote against a nominee.
Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware said Sunday that confirming Barrett “constitutes court packing.” Court packing is generally a term applied for adding justices over the nine currently on the court in order to ensure a majority votes in the way a president wishes.
Coons also called Barrett’s views “disqualifying.”
CORRECTION, Oct. 14, 2020: This story originally misidentified Senator Lindsey Graham as a representative rather than a senator. We apologize to Sen. Graham, and to our readers, for the error.
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