Government policy must be set by Congress and not the courts, Amy Coney Barrett was prepared to say in a statement on Monday, opening her confirmation hearings before the Senate judiciary committee.
But even before the supreme court nominee began speaking, Democrats argued that the process that got her there – Senate Republicans rushing to confirm her even as the president who nominated her appeared to be in the act of losing an election, perhaps badly – was an act of hypocrisy that would damage the legitimacy of the court.
Barrett, a conservative Christian who has criticized the high court’s decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act (ACA), who has publicly opposed reproductive rights and who was a trustee at a school whose handbook included a stated opposition to same-sex marriage, is seen on the left as part of a power play by Donald Trump and Republicansto cement a conservative majority on the court for a generation.
“I chose to accept the nomination because I believe deeply in the rule of law and the place of the supreme court in our nation,” Barrett planned to say in her opening statement, in which she described her family and paid tribute to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the justice she would replace.
If no additional senators cross party lines and barring procedural derailments which Democrats have ruled out, the Senate could confirm Barrett by the end of the month.
Four days of hearings are scheduled before the judiciary committee, beginning with opening statements on Monday, followed by two days of questioning. On Thursday, the Senate panel will hear from outside experts.
Republicans are moving ahead with the nomination over the strident objections of Democrats, who argue that the winner of the November election should nominate the next justice to the court, as was the case in 2016, after the death of Antonin Scalia.
Upon Scalia’s death in February 2016, the majority leader, Mitch McConnell, took the unprecedented step of refusing to hold a hearing for Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, explaining that it was too close to a presidential election.