After a tumultuous few weeks since her nomination was announced to the American people, the Senate confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett are set to begin Monday. 

What You Need To Know

  • Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s Senate confirmation hearings begin Monday at 9 a.m. EDT
  • The hearings are taking place on an accelerated timeline because President Trump and Senate Republicans want her on the bench before Election Day
  • Democrats have expressed concern about hosting in-person hearings due to the possible spread of coronavirus
  • Follow along for live updates throughout the day 

Barrett, a federal appeals court judge, will tell the Senate Judiciary Committee that she is “forever grateful” for Ginsburg’s trailblazing path as a woman, but she is resolved to maintain the perspective of her own mentor, the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia and “apply the law as written,” according to her prepared opening remarks for the hearings.

The high-stakes hearings come before a divided Senate as Republicans aim for a final vote on President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court before Election Day. 

This is a developing story. Read below for updates throughout the day.

1:55 p.m. EDT

All 22 members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have given their testimony.

Now, it’s Judge Barrett’s turn to speak for herself.

Judge Amy Coney Barrett has now been sworn in, and will deliver her opening remarks.

1:40 p.m. EDT

« Women have had to always fight for a seat at the table, » Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) said in her opening remarks, alleging that if Democrats had their way, « only certain kinds of women would be allowed into this hearing room. »

On the legacy of Justice Ginsburg, Sen. Blackburn said, « she was indeed a role model for many because she fought to open more doors for women in the law and beyond. And I sincerely hope that I am as effective an advocate in the Senate as she was in the Court. »

1:33 p.m. EDT

Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) condemned the hearings for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in a colorful remark, comparing it to « the cantina bar scene out of Star Wars. »

« We all watched the hearings for Justice Kavanaugh. It was a freak show. It looked like the cantina bar scene out of Star Wars. »

« This process is not supposed to be the Big Rock Candy Mountain, » Sen. Kennedy said. « Our job is to advise and consent, and that’s one way of saying that we’re supposed to make sure that the president has – whatever president makes the nomination – hasn’t made a mistake. »

“I think our founders intended federal judges to call balls and strikes. I don’t think our founders intended for judges to be able to draw the strike zone, » Sen. Kennedy said in a baseball analogy.




1:25 p.m. EDT

One of the most anticipated opening remarks took place not in the hearing room, but virtually in her Senate office nearby: Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), the Democratic nominee for Vice President who made a name for herself during past confirmation hearings.

Sen. Harris said that « the decision to hold this hearing now is reckless and places facilities workers, janitorial staff, congressional aides, and Capitol Police at risk. »

Invoking the legacy of the late Justice Ginsburg, Harris said that « by replacing Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg with someone who will undo her legacy, President Trump is attempting to roll back Americans’ rights for decades to come. Every American must understand that with this nomination, equal justice under law is at stake. »

« Our voting rights are at stake, » she added. « Workers’ rights are at stake. Consumers’ rights are at stake. The right to safe and legal abortion is at stake. And holding corporations accountable is at stake. And, again, there is so much more. »

Sen. Harris accused Senate Republicans of « rushing this process » so they can « get a justice onto the Court in time to ensure they can strip away the protections of the Affordable Care Act. »

« Republicans finally realized the ACA is too popular to repeal in Congress, » she said, « so now they are trying to bypass the will of voters and have the Supreme Court do their dirty work. »

She echoed her Democratic colleagues’ attacks on Senate Republicans for holding these hearings rather than negotiating on COVID-19 aid: « Republicans have made it crystal clear that rushing a Supreme Court nomination is more important than helping and supporting the American people who are suffering from a deadly pandemic and economic crisis. Their priorities are not the American people’s priorities. »

Sen. Harris ended her remarks by calling for no Supreme Court nomination until after the election: « We must listen to our constituents, protect their access to health care, and wait to confirm a new Supreme Court justice until after Americans decide who they want in the White House. »

1:00 p.m. EDT

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) became the third Republican on the committee to accuse Democrats of turning the Supreme Court into a « super-legislature. »

She also accused Democrats of painting Judge Barrett as “a TV or cartoon version of a religious radical, a so-called ‘handmaid,’ that feeds into all of the ridiculous stereotypes they have set out to lambast people of faith in America.” 

« We don’t have to fit the narrow definition of womanhood, » Sen. Ernst said in her defense of Judge Barrett.

Following Sen. Ernst’s opening remarks, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) slammed this confirmation process: « Nothing about this today is normal. This is not normal. » 

« Instead of doing anything to help people who are struggling right now, we are here,” Booker said, in reference to COVID-19 aid. « We should be, as the Senate, working in a bipartisan way to try to get this virus under control, to get relief to people who are hurting. »

12:45 p.m. EDT

The hearings have resumed – Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) is delivering her opening remarks.

In her opening statement, Sen. Hirono said that health care « is personal » to her, referencing her battle with stage 4 kidney cancer. 

“The Affordable Care Act provided this peace of mind for so many people over the years who found themselves in positions similar to mine. Their lives and health are what’s at stake. Their lives are what’s at stake with the nomination, » she said.

She appealed to Senate Republicans: “This can be a moment, Mr. Chairman, for you, and your Republican colleagues to show the American people – terrified about losing their health care – the same care and compassion you showed me and continued to show me, when I was diagnosed with cancer. Let’s end this hypocritical, illegitimate hearing, and return to the urgent work we have before us, to help those suffering.”

In a heartfelt moment of bipartisanship, Chairman Graham told Sen. Hirono that he’s glad she is doing well in her battle with cancer, calling her an « asset to the Senate. »

Sen. Hirono thanked Sen. Graham, urging him to « do the right thing. »

Earlier Monday, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden was asked about Judge Barrett’s faith and the confirmation hearings.

Former Vice President Biden urged Democrats to « keep our eye on the ball » and not consider her Catholic faith in her confirmation hearings.

« This nominee said she wants to get rid of the Affordable Care Act, the president wants to get rid of the Affordable Care Act. Let’s keep our eye on the ball. This is about whether or not in less than one month, Americans are going to lose their health insurance, » Biden said.

Five more senators will speak after Sen. Hirono, followed by the two Republican senators from Judge Barrett’s home state of Indiana, Sens. Mike Braun and Todd Young, followed by Patricia O’Hara, the former dean of Notre Dame Law School who hired Barrett.

Following that, finally, Barrett herself will be sworn in and deliver her opening statement.

11:45 a.m. EDT

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), who made Trump’s shortlist for the Supreme Court, slammed Democrats for « a pattern and practice of religious bigotry » against Judge Barrett.

“Judge Barrett is a Catholic. We all know that. Heck, 65 million Americans are Catholics and many, many millions more are Christians of other persuasions. Are they to be told that they cannot serve in public office? That they are not welcome in the public here unless the members of this committee sign off on their religious beliefs?” he said. “I don’t want to live in such an America.”

« This freedom of conscience and religious liberty underscores all of our other rights because it tells the government that it cannot tell us what to think or who we can assembly with or how we can worship or what we can say,” Sen. Hawley went on to say. “This bedrock principle of American liberty is now under attack.”

“When you tell somebody that they’re too Catholic to be on the bench, when you tell them they’re going to be a Catholic judge, not an American judge, that’s bigotry, » he said. »

Meanwhile, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said that Barrett must recuse herself from any election dispute. « It’s a break-the-glass moment. »

The hearings are currently in recess. We will check back later

11:25 a.m. EDT

Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) agreed with his Republican colleagues that religious liberty is fundamental, but echoed the talking points of Democrats that he opposes Judge Barrett’s nomination on the basis of protecting the Affordable Care Act.

“Just a week after the upcoming election, the Trump administration will be telling the Supreme Court to tear down the very law that provides health care protections in the middle of an ongoing pandemic.”

He called the hearings a « rushed, hypocritical, partisan process » and said that they « should not proceed. »

“This is an ongoing national emergency and as an exercise in civics, not politics, we in Congress should be working day and night to deliver them that [coronavirus] relief. Instead my colleagues are barreling forward with a confirmation hearing that’s distracting from our responsibility to our constituents and threatens to further tear our nation apart,” Coons added.

Putting it bluntly, Sen. Coons said « proceeding with this nomination at this time will do harm to what remaining trust we have in each other, the Senate as a whole and potentially to the court itself.”

11:11 a.m. EDT

24 Republican governors – including Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, and the governors of Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands – signed a joint letter calling for the confirmation of Judge Barrett.

11:00 a.m. EDT

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) used his time to provide an « eighth grade civics » lesson: “Civics is the basic stuff that all Americans should agree on, » he said.

« First, a positive grand, unifying truth about America: and that is religious liberty, » Sen. Sasse said, calling it « the basic idea that how you worship is none of the government’s business.”

« We decided to forget what civics are, and let politics swallow everything, » he said, adding « judges should be impartial. »

10:50 a.m. EDT

Former presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) slammed Trump’s remarks about wanting the Supreme Court to « look at the ballots » as part of his baseless claims about voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election.

« We cannot divorce this nominee from the election, » she said.

« This isn’t a rush to justice, this is a rush to put in a justice, » Sen. Klobuchar said. « A justice whose views are known and who will have a profound impact on your life … where you can go to school, who you can marry, decisions you can make about your own body and yes, your healthcare. »

She called the hearings a « sham » but said « I am here to do my job. »

« This isn’t Donald Trump’s country, » she said to voters as she concluded her remarks, « it’s yours. This shouldn’t be Donald Trump’s judge, it should be yours. »

10:35 a.m. EDT

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) delivered his opening remarks at the confirmation hearings virtually – he tested negative for COVID-19, but opted to self-quarantine following his contact with Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), who tested positive.

Sen. Cruz used his time to praise Judge Barrett for her qualifications, as well as justify her nomination during an election year.

Cruz noted that Judge Barrett « graduated number one in her class at Notre Dame Law School. »

« I would venture to say that there is likely not a single member of this committee who graduated number one in their class in law school, » he added.

“What speaks the loudest is the dog didn’t bark. We’ve heard virtually nothing about Judge Barrett. We’ve heard a lot of political rhetoric, » Sen. Cruz said. « On any measure, Judge Barrett’s credentials are impeccable. »

Cruz said that every single senator agrees that preexisting conditions should be protected: « There is complete unanimity on this. »

10:25 a.m. EDT

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) did not hold back on his attacks on the hearing, calling it a « microcosm » of the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. 

« Trump can’t even keep the White House safe, » Sen. Whitehouse said. « The whole thing, just like Trump, is an irresponsible botch. »

Whitehouse also echoed Dr. Anthony Fauci’s words about the ceremony at the White House Rose Garden where President Trump nominated Judge Barrett to the Supreme Court, calling it a « superspreader event. »

« My constituents want you, my colleagues, members of the Republican Party, » Sen. Whitehouse added, « to stand up for once to Mitch McConnell and to the big donors who are driving this process, and for the sake of regular people say, ‘Stop' »

10:20 a.m. EDT

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), one of the two members of the committee who tested positive for COVID-19 following the ceremony at the White House Rose Garden where President Trump nominated Judge Barrett to the Supreme Court, delivered his opening statement remarks without a mask.

Sen. Lee lamented the fact that « we have allowed for the politicization of the one branch of government that is not political, » telling Judge Barrett that he would « object anytime anyone tries to attribute to you a policy position. »

Sen. Lee noted that « policy arguments » are not a Justice’s job; rather, « your job is to decide what the law says. »

10:15 a.m. EDT

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) said that Judge Barrett’s nomination comes « under a cloud. »

« You have been nominated by a president who shows contempt for the Constitution, he said. « You cannot feel good about a president cheapening this historic moment. »

Durbin said that Justices Ginsburg and Scalia received such widespread bipartisan support « because people lived by the rules, they lived by the traditions of the Senate, and they had mutual respect for one another. We know now that this process does not adhere. »

He also echoed the Democrats’ tactics of highlighting beneficiaries of the Affordable Care Act, using the example of a family with a child who had heart defects diagnosed in utero who credit the law with helping them afford their child’s medical care.  

In his remarks, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) lamented the partisan nature of the confirmation hearings, saying that « the Senate used to recognize that exceptional qualifications were all that was required for a seat on the Court. »

However, in 2016, his argument for blocking Merrick Garland’s nomination was that « the next justice could change the ideological makeup of the Court. »

« Could it be that one of the reasons these confirmation hearings have become so contentious is because some Americans have given up on the idea of fair and impartial judges, » Cornyn asked. « I hope not. » 

9:55 a.m. EDT

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) was the first Senator to deliver his remarks virtually – but his remarks were in line with the Democrat who preceded him, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). He focused on the Affordable Care Act, as well as the timing of Barrett’s nomination coming so close to Election Day, as voting is underway.

“I have served in the Senate for 46 years, a span that includes 20 Supreme Court nominations and 16 confirmation hearings. None – not one – looked anything like this one, » Sen. Leahy said of Judge Barrett’s confirmation hearings.

“We should not have had a nomination before Justice Ginsburg was even buried, while the nation was mourning her passing. We should not be holding a hearing just 16 days later, when this Committee has afforded itself three times as long to vet other modern nominees, » he added. “We should not be holding a hearing 3 weeks from an election, when millions of Americans have already voted. Not when doing so requires that half of the Senate go back on their word, contradicting every argument they made about the American people needing a voice. »

He also slammed Republicans for holding hearings amid the COVID-19 pandemic, « when it is plainly unsafe to do so, » citing Sens. Lee and Tillis of « just now emerging from quarantine » and « other members have declined to get tested at all. »

“The Senate should also not be holding this hearing while doing nothing to pass a desperately-needed COVID relief bill, Sen. Leahy said. « Every senator on this Committee knows in her or his heart that this is wrong. »

9:45 a.m. EDT

In his opening statement, Sen. Chuck Graslsey (R-IA), the 87-year-old former Senate Judiciary Chairman, slammed Democrats, saying they « should not claim they know how any justice will rule on a case, » claiming that Democrats eventually « praised these very justices that they attacked » based on their perception of the views of judicial nominees.

« Judge Barrett clearly understands the importance of health care, » Grassley said, defending Judge Barrett on the Democrats’ claims that she would overturn the Affordable Care Act.

9:30 a.m. EDT

« In filling Judge Ginsburg’s seat, the stakes are extraordinarily high for the American people. »

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, focused her remarks squarely on the Affordable Care Act, as well as the case that will be argued before the Supreme Court that may determine its future, California v. Texas.

« The president has promised to appoint justices who will vote to dismantle that law. As a candidate he criticized the Supreme Court for upholding the law, and said that, ‘if I win the presidency, my judicial appointments will do the right thing, unlike Bush’s appointee John Roberts, on Obamacare.' »

« And when he appointed Judge Barrett to fill Justice Ginsburg’s seat, » she continued, « the president said that eliminating the Affordable Care Act would be ‘a big win’ for the USA. »

Expect the Democrats on the committee to focus on the ACA throughout the week in the confirmation hearings.

The oldest sitting Senator also slammed the decision to hold this hearing while voting is underway.

« Voting is underway in 40 states. Senate Republicans are pressing forward full speed ahead … simply put, I believe we should not be moving forward on this nomination, not until the election has ended and the next president has taken office.”

9:15 a.m. EDT

« This is going to be a long, contentious week. »

In his opening statement, Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) defended moving ahead with the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett in an election year, noting that no Supreme Court nominee has ever been confirmed after July in an election year.

Graham invoked the words of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who said that, « a president serves for four years, not three. »

He also urged Democrats not to « attack » Barrett in her confirmation hearings as he predicted a partisan vote in the committee. « I think I know how the vote is going to come out, » he said.


9:00 a.m. EDT

According to multiple reports, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) will be attending the Amy Coney Barrett confirmation hearings in person, despite recently testing positive for COVID-19.

Sen. Lee was spotted in the hearing room wearing a mask before the hearings began.

The hearings are officially underway. Stay tuned for further updates.

Earlier Monday

Barrett’s hearings also come as a majority of Americans continue to oppose nominating a Supreme Court Justice before the presidential election – an ABC News-Washington Post poll released Monday shows that 52% of Americans say the winner of November’s election should fill the seat vacated by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, though that number is down from 57% in an ABC News-Washington Post poll taken in late September.

The same poll says that 62% of Americans want the Supreme Court to uphold the decision in the landmark 1973 case Roe v. Wade, which ruled that the U.S. Constitution protects a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion without government interference. 

Democrats have called on Amy Coney Barrett to provide omitted material from a questionnaire Barrett completed, which they say failed to include a 2006 newspaper ad sponsored by an anti-abortion group in which she said she opposed “abortion on demand” and defended “the right to life from fertilization to the end of natural life.”

Long before Trump appointed her to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in 2017, Barrett reportedly allowed her name to appear underneath an ad in the South Bend Tribune in support of anti-choice group St. Joseph County Right to Life, according to a report from The Guardian. The ad reportedly read in part: “We, the following citizens of Michiana, oppose abortion on demand and defend the right to life from fertilization to natural death. Please continue to pray to end abortion.”

“The Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion for any reason,” the ad continued. “It’s time to put an end to the barbaric legacy of Roe v. Wade and restore laws that protect the lives of unborn children.”

According to The Guardian’s report, the ad also contained language stating that the “discarding of unused or frozen embryos created in the in vitro fertilization (IVF) process ought to be criminalized.”

Barrett and her husband Jesse were reportedly among the signatures below the ad. At the time, Barrett was serving as a law professor at Notre Dame. 

While Barrett has maintained that her personal beliefs will have “no bearing” on her decisions should she be nominated to the nation’s highest court, her judicial record tells a conflicting story: Several of her past academic writings suggest she might be open to overturning Roe v. Wade.

Republicans, who control the Senate, are moving at a breakneck pace to seat Barrett before the Nov. 3 election to secure Trump’s pick and hear a high-profile challenge to the Affordable Care Act and any election-related challenges.

Democrats are trying in vain to delay the fast-track confirmation by raising fresh concerns about the safety of meeting during the pandemic after two GOP senators on the panel tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), and Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC), have not said if they will attend in person. A spokesperson for Sen. Lee said the senator is symptom-free but would be making a decision on whether to attend Monday morning, per his doctor’s orders. A spokesman for Sen. Tillis did not respond to multiple requests for comment from the Associated Press.

Both tested positive 10 days ago.

Key Democrats are staying away. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), the Democratic vice presidential nominee and a committee member, plans to participate remotely from her Senate office due to coronavirus concerns, her spokesman said Sunday.

The committee released a letter from the Architect of the Capitol on Sunday that says the hearing room has been set up in consultation with the Office of Attending Physician with appropriate distance between seats and air ventilation systems that meet or exceed industry standards.

“We’re going to work safely,” Senate Judiciary Chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said on Fox News; he also mentioned he tested negative for COVID-19.

Trump chose the 48-year-old judge after the death last month of Ginsburg, a liberal icon, giving the president and Senate Republicans opportunity to entrench a conservative majority on the court for years to come with his third justice

Outside groups are pushing Democrats to make a strong case against what they call an illegitimate confirmation, when people are already voting in some states, saying the winner of the presidency should make the pick. No Supreme Court justice has ever been confirmed so close to a presidential contest

“The public is with them that this shouldn’t happen before the election,” said Brian Fallon, executive director of Demand Justice, which advocates against right-leaning nominees.

The country will get an extended look at Barrett over the next three days in hearings like none other during the heated election environment and the pandemic limiting public access.

Faith and family punctuate her testimony, and she said would bring “a few new perspectives” as the first mother of school-age children on the nine-member court.

Barrett says she uses her children as a test when deciding cases, asking herself how she would view the decision if one of her children were the party she was ruling against.

“Even though I would not like the result, would I understand that the decision was fairly reasoned and grounded in the law?” she says in the prepared remarks.

A Catholic, she says she believes in the “power of prayer.” Barrett’s religious views and past leadership role in a Catholic faith community pose a challenge for Democrats as they try to probe her judicial approach to abortion, gay marriage and other social issues without veering into inappropriate questions of her faith.

Ordinarily, Barrett would get to show off her family and seven children. But the White House event announcing her nomination, in which most of the audience did not wear masks, has been labeled a “superspreader” for the coronavirus.

More than two dozen people linked to the Sept. 26 Rose Garden event, including the two GOP senators, have contracted COVID-19 since then. Barrett and her family went maskless at the event. She and her husband, Jesse, tested positive for the virus earlier this year and recovered, two administration officials have said.

Democrats already were enraged that Republicans are moving so quickly having refused to consider President Barack Obama nominee in February 2016, well before that year’s election.

Obama nominated Merrick Garland, a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, on March 16, 2016. Garland had more federal judicial experience than any Supreme Court nominee in history, received the highest possible rating from the American Bar Association, and even had the endorsement of a key Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, then-Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), the longest-serving Republican Senator in U.S. history.

In an unprecedented move, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) refused to hold hearings or votes on Garland; after 293 days, Garland’s nomination expired at the end of the Congressional session.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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