The Hill reports that Senate Republicans are eyeing a final vote to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court on Monday, October 26 — less than a week from today. That timeline isn’t locked down, but Republicans are planning a rare weekend session that would set up a final vote early next week.
My initial take was that Barrett probably wouldn’t be confirmed before the election (and probably not afterwards, either). I thought that Sens. Collins, Murkowski, and Romney would all oppose her confirmation, and that a random GOP Senator or two, with nothing to lose, would join them. I also wondered whether McConnell could get a vote for Barrett this quickly.
But Romney immdediately made it clear that he was on board with confirming Barrett. And now, it seems there’s a chance that even Murkowski will vote to confirm her.
As for timing, I suspect that McConnell and his caucus were highly motivated to get confirmation done because they saw it as a means of saving their Senate majority. They probably recognized that the odds in this election are against them, and that they needed a game changer.
Confirming Barrett, they hoped, would do the trick, much like the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation is thought to have helped Republicans in the 2018 Senate races. If the Democrats botched the confirmation hearings, so much the better.
The Democrats didn’t botch the Barrett hearings. They managed to treat Barrett respectfully — if you count not smearing her and rarely asking her questions as respect.
Does this mean the Barrett confirmation will tilt the playing field in favor of Senate Republicans? I doubt this, but it can’t hurt. And if it saves a Senate seat of two, that would be great.
Is there a cost? I expect that if Joe Biden is elected and the Dems have control of the Senate, there will be an attempt to pack the Supreme Court, and that the confirmation of Barrett just before the election will be cited as somehow justifying the move.
But I think the Democratic leadership would have attempted to pack the Court in any case, citing the confirmation of Justice Kavanaugh. Filling Justice Ginsburg’s seat with a leftist wouldn’t have satisfied them. It would have left Chief Justice Roberts as the swing vote. That probably wouldn’t have been good enough for Joe Biden and the Democrats. You know, Citizens United and all that.
Will the elevation of Barrett to the Supreme Court make an attempt to pack the Court more palatable to the public? Probably not, given that public opinion clearly favors her confirmation.
In sum, I’m delighted that McConnell pushed ahead aggressively with the confirmation process and, if all goes well, I look forward to celebrating Judge Barrett’s elevation to Justice next week.