Hand sanitizer and masks could be found throughout the Senate on Monday, but that didn’t keep either side from diving headfirst into the political muck as the confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett officially got underway.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham left little doubt about where the process was headed. As he gaveled the opening of the proceedings, he announced, “The hearing to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.” The key word being “confirm” in place of “consider.”
Senator Graham has also had a pretty honest assessment of the situation, saying, “This is probably not about persuading each other unless something really dramatic happens.” Graham later added, “All the Republicans will vote yes, all the Democrats will vote no.”
While Democrats spent most of the day attacking the process as a power grab, Republicans tried to drive the hearings back toward the nominee. Time is of the essence for Republicans with the election now just three weeks away. Republican senators continued to highlight Judge Barrett’s résumé and compelling personal story.
Barrett appeared before the panel wearing a black mask with her husband and six of her seven children behind her. In her opening remarks, Barrett said, “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. I believe Americans of all backgrounds deserve an independent Supreme Court that interprets our Constitution and laws as they are written. And I believe I can serve my country by playing that role.”
The opening statement by Judge Barrett concluded the first of four scheduled days of confirmation hearings. While Monday was focused on opening statements, on Tuesday senators will get the chance to ask the nominee questions.