Democrats planning to boycott Senate Judiciary vote to advance Barrett nomination
Posted October 21, 2020 6:13 p.m. EDT
CNN — Senate Judiciary Democrats, facing criticism from the left that they have not done more to question the legitimacy of the Supreme Court confirmation proceedings for Amy Coney Barrett, plan to take the extraordinary step of boycotting a key committee vote on Thursday.
Republicans said they can still hold the committee vote Thursday and advance the nomination even if Democrats boycott the proceedings, though the act is a sign of the partisan rancor over the election year nomination to fill the seat of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Democrats say they plan to fill the seats Thursday with pictures of people impacted by the Affordable Care Act, part of the Democratic strategy for tying Barrett's nomination to a threat posed to President Barack Obama's signature health care law, which is scheduled to be before the Supreme Court the week after Election Day.
"This has been a sham process from the beginning," said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Judiciary Democrats in a statement released Wednesday. "We will not grant this process any further legitimacy by participating in a committee markup of this nomination just twelve days before the culmination of an election that is already underway."
The announcement of the boycott comes after Senate Democrats have been sharply criticized by some of their liberal supporters for not taking a tougher line with Barrett and adding legitimacy to the process during Barrett's hearings last week.
In particular, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, came under scathing criticism when she praised Republican Chairman Lindsey Graham for his handling of the confirmation process.
Feinstein's comments infuriated Democrats and liberal activists who had been seeking to mount a unified attack over proceedings they deemed a sham. Two progressive groups, including the abortion-rights lobby NARAL, demanded she be removed as the top Democrat on the committee, while GOP leaders have repeatedly highlighted her comments as they race to get Barrett confirmed eight days before Election Day.
"I've had a long and serious talk with Sen. Feinstein," Schumer told reporters Tuesday when asked if he was looking to make changes atop the powerful committee. "That's all I'm going to say about it right now."
Feinstein would not comment to CNN when asked Wednesday if she would seek the chairmanship of the committee if Democrats take the Senate majority.
"I'm not going to respond to that," she told CNN when asked twice if she wanted the position.