These Are the Senators to Watch During Barrett’s Hearings

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  • Bloomberg QuickTake: Now published this video item, entitled “These Are the Senators to Watch During Barrett’s Hearings” – below is their description.

    The confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett will put members of the Senate Judiciary Committee — at least three of whom are in the final month of extremely close races for re-election — in the middle of a national dialogue on issues central to the 2020 campaign: health care, abortion and the environment. After four days of hearings, the panel of 12 Republicans and 10 Democrats will vote, probably on Oct. 22, whether to advance Barrett’s nomination to the full Senate for final consideration and likely confirmation the following week. South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham has gone from being a Donald Trump critic to one of the president’s closest allies in Congress. In the role of Judiciary chairman, he is championing Trump’s nomination of Barrett and has set an ambitious schedule to get her through the confirmation process before the Nov. 3 election. The hearings may help bolster his standing with the party’s conservative base, which has been wary of Graham in the past because of his support for issues like immigration reform. Barrett’s confirmation would solidify a conservative majority on the court. That’s particularly important for Graham, 65, who is suddenly facing a serious challenge in his campaign to win a fourth term on Nov. 3. Recent polls in the state have him tied with Democrat Jamie Harrison. The non-partisan Cook Political Report recently moved the race to the toss-up category, and Harrison raised a record $57 million in the third quarter. Graham was fiery in his defense of Trump’s last court nominee, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and he likely won’t hold back if Democrats go after Barrett. The stakes are high for California Democrat Kamala Harris, who is on the November ballot as her party’s vice presidential candidate. Republicans and the Trump campaign will be scrutinizing her every question and gesture to use against her and presidential nominee Joe Biden. The former prosecutor is known for her pointed questioning, and she was one of the most aggressive interrogators during the Kavanaugh hearings. But the dynamic will be different this time. Democrats have almost no hope of blocking Barrett, so they are looking to make points with voters on the issues at stake in the election. The future of the Affordable Care Act, the subject of a case that will be heard by the Supreme Court shortly after the election, will be at the top of the Democrats’ agenda, as will Barrett’s stance on abortion rights. In pursuing those topics, particularly abortion, Harris, 55, will have to ask tough questions that the Democratic base wants to hear while keeping in mind potential swing voters who’ll be watching to see how Barrett is treated. Harris joined the Senate in 2017 and is the most junior member of the committee. That means she likely will be the last questioner as senators take their turns. Should Democrats pick up enough seats on Nov. 3 to assume control of the Senate, California’s Dianne Feinstein would be in line to become the Judiciary panel’s next chair. Democrats as well as Republicans will be watching Feinstein’s performance. Progressives in her party have grumbled that Feinstein’s tendency to seek bipartisan consensus doesn’t reflect the current political atmosphere. For example, she has said she wouldn’t support ending the filibuster, the Senate rule that lets the minority party block legislation. Getting rid of that rule is a goal of the party’s left wing. Feinstein, 87, drew harsh criticism from Republicans for how she handled Barrett’s nomination to the Seventh Circuit in 2017. Feinstein questioned whether Barrett’s Catholic faith would unduly influence her rulings, at one point telling Barrett that “the dogma lives loudly within you.”

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