Blumenthal wants Barrett recusal in election cases
WASHINGTON (AP) — Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal says Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett must recuse herself from any cases involving President Donald Trump and the outcome of the Nov. 3 election.
The Connecticut senator says Barrett’s participation in election cases would do “explosive, enduring harm to the court’s legitimacy" and to her credibility.
Blumenthal told Trump’s nominee on Monday: “You must recuse yourself.”
Democrats are warning Republicans that the American public is not on their side rushing Trump’s nominee to confirmation while early voting is underway. Democrats say the winner of the presidential election should choose the nominee for the seat made vacant by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg.
Republicans want Barrett confirmed before the presidential election.
During Monday's hearing confirmation to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Senate Democrats branded Barrett a threat to Americans' health care during the coronavirus pandemic.
In a competing effort to approvingly define the 48-year-old Barrett, who sat silent and wearing a face mask, Republican senators called President Donald Trump's pick a thoughtful judge with impeccable credentials.
Barring a dramatic development, Republicans appear to have the votes to confirm Barrett to a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court. If she is confirmed quickly she could be on the Supreme Court when it hears the latest challenge to the Affordable Care Act, a week after the election.
One after another, Democrats sought to tie her nomination to the upcoming court case.
“Health care coverage for millions of Americans is at stake with this nomination,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the committee’s senior Democrat.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., said the nomination is a “judicial torpedo aimed” at the law's protection for people with pre-existing health conditions among its provisions. The Trump administration wants the court to strike down the entire law popularly known as “Obamacare” on Nov. 10. Barrett has criticized the court's two earlier major rulings supporting the law.
Among Republicans, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, dismissed warnings Barrett will undo the Obama-era healthcare law as “outrageous.”
Republicans also warned against making Barrett’s Catholicism an issue in the confirmation debate, especially in regard to her stance on abortion, with Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri lambasting what he called a “pattern and practice of religious bigotry” by Democrats. However, Democratic senators made clear in advance of the hearing that they didn't plan to question the judge on the specifics of her religious faith.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, also a practicing Catholic, told reporters ahead of a campaign trip to Ohio that he doesn’t think “there’s any question about her faith.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee, meeting on a federal holiday, kicked off four days of statements and testimony in an environment that has been altered by the coronavirus pandemic. Some senators were taking part remotely, and the hearing room itself was arranged with health concerns in mind.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., opened the hearing acknowledging “the COVID problem in America is real." But he said, “We do have a country that needs to move forward safely.”
Graham acknowledged the obvious: “This is going to be a long, contentious week.”