Trump’s Supreme Court Pick Heads to Capitol Tuesday for Meetings

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Judge Amy Coney Barrett will begin a series of one-on-one meetings with U.S. senators on Tuesday, as President Donald Trump and GOP leaders begin to execute their plan to elevate her to the Supreme Court by Election Day with only Republican support.

Barrett will meet a handful of Republican senators, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham. Two senior members of the panel that will consider her nomination -- Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Mike Lee of Utah -- also announced they will have customary meetings to discuss her legal views and philosophy.

Trump on Saturday said he’ll nominate Barrett, a federal appellate court judge, to fill the seat vacated by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The loss of liberal icon Ginsburg and the confirmation of the conservative Barrett, 48, could cement a rightward shift on the court for years to come.

Senate Democrats say they’ll be united in opposition to Barrett, a devout Catholic who personally considers abortion to be “always immoral” and who they say could harm hard-fought legislative and court wins related to workplace discrimination, gun safety and other protections.

McConnell and Graham have set forth a rapid timetable to vote on her confirmation in coming weeks. Since McConnell forced through a change in Senate filibuster rules in 2017, it only takes takes the support of 51 senators to confirm a Supreme Court justice, rather than 60.

Bitter Clash

The decision to push ahead on the confirmation just weeks before the election has set off a bitter clash in the Senate. Democrats have charged their counterparts with hypocrisy, after most Senate Republicans in 2016 refused to even meet with Judge Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s replacement for the late Justice Antonin Scalia, claiming it was too close to that year’s election. Garland was named more than seven months before the November 2016 vote.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Sunday he won’t meet with Barrett. So have Senate Judiciary Committee members Mazie Hirono of Hawaii and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. Dick Durbin, the party’s No. 2 leader in the Senate and a member of the panel, by contrast said he was open to extending that “courtesy” if Barrett requested it.

Democrats have acknowledged there is little they can do to keep Barrett off the court, though that won’t stop the minority party from making its case. One Senate Democratic aide said Tuesday that no Democrat on the Judiciary Committee plans to boycott the hearings -- instead wanting to use them to make a case against her and show the public that they are fighting back.

The aide noted that the fact Barrett didn’t work in the federal government gives Democrats fewer avenues to fight back, as that otherwise would have triggered the release of past emails and documents that could have been culled for controversies and clues to her views.

No Trove

In the last three confirmations for spots on the Supreme Court, for current Justices Elena Kagan, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, earlier jobs at the White House or Justice Department provided an avalanche of material for opponents to pore over.

Democrats are looking closely at the opinions Barrett wrote on the appellate court to which she was confirmed in 2017, and also are digging more deeply into her past writings and background, the aide said.

Barrett, a graduate of Notre Dame Law School, would join Trump’s other two appointees, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, both of whom are in their 50s. The confirmation hearings are scheduled to begin Oct. 12.

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