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World Senate poised to confirm Trump Supreme Court pick

19:00  26 october  2020
19:00  26 october  2020 Source:   bbc.com

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Democrats are trying desperately to delay a vote on Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, as the Republican-controlled Senate nears confirmation.

a person wearing a suit and tie: Conservative Judge Amy Coney Barrett is all but certain to be confirmed to the Supreme Court © Getty Images Conservative Judge Amy Coney Barrett is all but certain to be confirmed to the Supreme Court

Protesting the imminent approval of Amy Coney Barrett, Democrats are making speech after speech on Monday to stretch debate to its maximum limit.

But Judge Barrett is all but certain to be confirmed in a vote on Monday.

Democrats are criticising the rushed nomination process - on the eve of a presidential election - as a "sham".

Judge Barrett's lifetime appointment would cement a 6-3 conservative majority on the nine-member court, tilting the ideological balance of the court for potentially decades to come.

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  • Amy Coney Barrett on abortion, healthcare and her faith
  • What is the US Supreme Court?
  • Trump picks Amy Coney Barrett for Supreme Court

The 48-year-old would be the third justice appointed by the Republican president, after Neil Gorsuch in 2017 and Brett Kavanaugh in 2018.

Judge Barrett will likely be confirmed closely along party lines, with every Democrat voting in opposition.

Chuck Schumer, the Democratic minority leader, vowed that the party would "not stop fighting" as his colleagues took to the floor of the Senate to denounce the proceedings. Mr Schumer also attempted to stop Mike Pence, the vice-president, from appearing in the chamber, tweeting that he "cannot come to the Senate" due to his recent exposure aides diagnosed with Covid-19. As vice-president, Mr Pence is the president of the Senate, a largely ceremonial role.

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New York Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand accused Republican colleagues of "stunning" hypocrisy in hurrying Judge Barrett's confirmation through, while refusing to move forward on a Covid-19 relief bill.

"The weeks we should have spent negotiating a real relief package, have instead been spent rushing through a Supreme Court justice," she said.

Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut accused Mrs Barrett of holding views that will restrict expansion of American liberties.

a man standing in front of a building: Democrat Chuck Schumer has described Judge Barrett's confirmation as a © Getty Images Democrat Chuck Schumer has described Judge Barrett's confirmation as a "sham process".

Republicans meanwhile have praised Judge Barrett on her judicial record, and celebrated prospect of establishing a robust and likely long-term conservative majority on the nation's highest court.

"The Senate is doing the right thing. We're moving this nomination forward, and colleagues, by tomorrow night, we'll have a new member of the United States Supreme Court" said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Sunday.

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They expect a confirmation vote by 20:00 local time.

What's at stake?

The lifetime appointees to the Supreme Court help shape public policy for decades. In recent years, the court has expanded gay marriage to all 50 states, allowed Mr Trump's ban on mainly Muslim majority countries to remain in effect, and delayed a US plan to cut carbon emissions.

Democrats fear that Judge Barrett's successful nomination will favour Republicans in politically sensitive cases that reach the top court, from health care to voting and election challenges.

a man wearing a suit and tie: Senate leader Mitch McConnell has celebrated Judge Barrett's selection as a win for conservatives © Getty Images Senate leader Mitch McConnell has celebrated Judge Barrett's selection as a win for conservatives

Conservatives hope she will rule against the Affordable Care Act - a health insurance scheme introduced by then-President Barack Obama. Some 20 million Americans could lose their health care coverage if the court overturns the legislation, also known as Obamacare.

And as a devout Catholic, Mrs Barrett is a favourite among religious conservatives who hope she will overturn Roe v Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court Decision that legalised abortion nationwide.

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"We've made an important contribution to the future of this country," said Mr McConnell on Sunday. "A lot of what we've done over the last four years will be undone sooner or later by the national election. They won't be able to do much about this for a long time to come."

Who is Amy Coney Barrett?

  • Favoured by social conservatives due to record on issues like abortion and gay marriage
  • A devout Catholic but says her faith does not influence her legal opinion
  • An originalist, which means interpreting US Constitution as authors intended, not moving with the time
  • Lives in Indiana, has seven children including two adopted from Haiti

Who is Trump's Supreme Court pick?

What does this mean for the election?

Judge Barrett's nomination could also have major ramifications for the 3 November presidential election.

Millions more Americans are expected to vote by mail this year because of coronavirus, meaning a delay in counting all the votes is highly likely. As a result, there is a chance that the early leader on election night may not be the ultimate winner.

President Trump, who has repeatedly expressed unfounded scepticism over the legitimacy of postal ballots, has said he believes the election result could end up in the US Supreme Court. Various legal challenges could emerge this year, ranging from the identification requirements for postal voting, to the legality of Covid-related changes to voting.

During her confirmation hearing, Democrats pressed Judge Barrett on whether or not she would recuse herself from cases involving the 2020 election, raising alarm that the new justice may favour the president who had nominated her just weeks before.

Judge Barrett refused to answer outright, saying only that she would take the issue seriously.

Trump Says Election Will Be Decided After November 3, 'Thank You Very Much Supreme Court' .
He made the comments while campaigning in Pennsylvania Saturday and has suggested the election will be decided in the high court in the days or weeks after November 3. "Oh we just found 10,000 ballots, oh we found another 10,000," Trump said of hypothetical post-election fraud. "I think this will end up in the Supreme Court. And I think it's very important that we have nine justices," Trump told Fox News last month, prior to Barrett's confirmation by Senate Republicans.

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