GOP plan to rush Supreme Court confirmation just got a whole lot harder


Trump tweeted Tuesday that the Barrett confirmation will be 'fast and easy.' Here's why he might be wrong.

Trump tweeted Tuesday night that the confirmation proceedings of controversial Supreme Court Justice nominee Amy Coney Barrett will be "fast and easy," but the jury's still out on that one.

In a Washington Post Live interview, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) expressed confidence that Barrett's confirmation would go off without a hitch.

"I'm very confident," Cruz said. "I believe we have the votes. I believe we'll get it done."

He added that Republicans have a "solid 51 votes right now" and he doesn't "see that changing."

But a number of obstacles still stand between Barrett and the Supreme Court.

The coronavirus outbreak sweeping the White House and Capitol Hill — possibly set into motion by the Rose Garden event announcing Barrett's nomination — could slow down the process.

In fact, Cruz quarantined himself after attending the Rose Garden event. Two of Cruz's colleagues, Sens. James Lankford (R-OK) and Ben Sasse (R-NE), also quarantined themselves after the event. Three other GOP senators — Sens. Thom Tillis (R-NC), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Ron Johnson (R-WI) — have all tested positive for the virus.

Four of the GOP senators who attended the Rose Garden event — Cruz, Sasse, Lee, and Tillis — sit on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Sens. Lisa Murkowsi (R-AL) and Susan Collins (R-ME) have both publicly said they oppose pushing through a nominee before the election.

All of this calls into question whether or not the Republicans will have the votes needed to confirm Barrett. Republicans currently hold 53 Senate seats.

Pandemic or no pandemic, Republicans remain determined to push through Barrett's confirmation. Johnson recently said he would attend Barrett's confirmation vote in a "moon suit," even if he needed to break quarantine to do so.

"Where there's a will, there's a way," Johnson said.

Barrett's confirmation hearings are slated to begin Oct. 12, but Senate Democrats have called for delaying the hearing until the Senate can safely deliberate in person.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has pushed back, accusing Democrats of posturing to delay the vote.

"We've been dealing with this since May," McConnell said on Fox News Tuesday night. "All of a sudden, it's become disabling?"

McConnell failed to acknowledge the outbreak that has swept the U.S. Capitol, exposing senators and staff alike.

"This is just another effort to delay the process on this outstanding Supreme Court nominee that the president has sent up to the Senate," McConnell said.

It would be impossible to safely hold in-person Senate hearings under the current federal guidelines. Maggie Jo Buchanan, the director of legal progress for the Center for American Progress, told the American Independent Foundation that moving forward "puts not only senators, but Capitol staff and the broader community at risk."

Other factors could further complicate the confirmation proceedings. Backlash among Democratic senators is growing about the GOP's brazen attempts to install a Supreme Court Justice immediately before the Nov. 3 election. While Senate Democrats may not be able to stop Barrett's confirmation altogether, they may be able to delay it using procedural stall tactics.

"It will be completely impossible to have a serious review of the nominee's record on this timeline, which shows Republicans simply want anybody who will push their political agenda of overturning the Affordable Care Act and Roe v. Wade," Buchanan said.

A recent Data for Progress poll shows that 65% of Americans think the Senate should be prioritizing coronavirus relief negotiations over pushing through a Supreme Court confirmation.

Concerns are mounting about Barrett's ability to keep her anti-abortion views separate from her jurisprudence.

For instance, Barrett failed to disclose to the Senate Judiciary Committee that she once put her name on a two-page ad in Indiana's South Bend Tribune that called Roe v. Wade — the landmark case that enshrined women's constitutional right to have an abortion — "barbaric."

This week, it was reported that Barrett lived in a house owned by the co-founders of the People of Praise, a conservative Christian organization.

Last month, former members of the group told the Associated Press that People of Praise instructed its female members to "submit in all things."

"I remember my mother saying a wife could never deny sex to her husband, because it was his right and her duty," Lisa Williams, whose parents joined People of Praise in the late 1970s, wrote in a now-deleted blog post. "Women had to be obedient. They had to be subservient."

Barrett also served on the board of directors of the Trinity School at Greenlawn in South Bend. The private Christian school is affiliated with People of Praise, which condemns "homosexual acts" and vehemently opposes same-sex marriage.

In 2015, the Supreme Court ruled on Obergefell v. Hodges, the generation-defining case that legalized same-sex marriage throughout the country. Barrett served on Trinity's board from 2015 to 2017.

Still, Republicans may not have the clear path to a Barrett confirmation that they seek.

"The American people are overwhelmingly opposed to Republicans shutting down urgent coronavirus aid to rush this nomination," Buchanan said. "The choice is in Republicans' hands: Will they choose their political agenda over serving the American people in this crisis?"

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.