Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee have reluctantly admitted they have no power to stop the Republican majority in that committee – and in the full-Senate – from conforming Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the US Supreme Court.
Republicans hold a 53 to 47 seat majority in the US Senate and technically have the votes to confirm Barrett. Democrats, in their frustration, have threatened to pack the High Court with Progressive nominees in retaliation should former Vice President Joe Biden and running mate Se. Kamala Harris (D-CA), win on November 3, 2020.
“There’s no procedural move that I’m aware of that allows the minority to slow this process down at all,” Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), said. “And trust me, I’ve asked a lot.”
“That’s one of the things that I think the general public doesn’t quite appreciate is that as long as the [GOP] majority is willing to change the rules and is willing to insist on moving ahead when it is demonstrably unsafe, unwise and unprecedented to do so, there’s nothing the [Democrat] minority can do to stop them.”
Coons’ recollection of history can be rightly called into question.
There have been 29 Supreme Court vacancies during presidential election years throughout the history of the United States, with justices nominated in each of those cases.
Coons’ reference to changing the rules references the Senate Republicans’ refusal to hold confirmation hearings on Merrick Garland, then-President Obama’s nominee to the US Supreme Court to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
In that instance, the presidency and the Senate majority were held by opposing parties, the Senate having flipped in the previous election from a Democrat majority to a Republican one. Then, the Republican Senate served as a check to the unilateralism the Obama administration held prior to the Republican majority.
In contrast, today, both the presidency and the Senate majority are held by the same party and the Senate’s action affirms the not the will of the President, but the intent of their constituencies.
Only two Republican Senators, Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Susan Collins (R-ME), have snarled at pushing through the Barrett nomination in the lead up to the 2020 General Election. Neither has indicated they would vote against Barrett in the end vote.
The US Constitution does not mandate any hiatus or waiting period for Supreme Court nominations in an election year. Conversely, the Constitution requires action to seat any vacancy. The sentiment to delay a nomination or a vote is purely political in nature.