Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Amy Coney Barrett's Supreme Court Confirmation Hearing Scene

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina delivered something of a spoiler alert today when he opened the confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

LINDSEY GRAHAM: This is probably not about persuading each other, unless something really dramatic happens. All Republicans will vote yes, and all Democrats will vote no.

CHANG: With Republicans holding a majority in the Senate, Barrett's confirmation is all but certain. So the senators spoke directly to the American people in their opening statements. They did so in a hearing shaped by the pandemic. While senators spoke, Judge Barrett's nose and mouth were covered with a black face mask. Two of the Republicans on the Judiciary Committee tested positive for the coronavirus after a White House reception for Barrett. Dr. Anthony Fauci called that gathering a super spreader event. Sen. Cory Booker, a Democrat from New Jersey, criticized the hearing.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CORY BOOKER: I'd like to enter into the record a letter from Sens. Leahy, Sen. Harris and myself that we sent to the chairman last week asking that these hearings not proceed without proper testing measures, without all of us being tested and the COVID safety protocol being put into place.

CHANG: Judiciary Chair Lindsey Graham disagreed. He says the committee is following CDC safety protocols.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

GRAHAM: I think we can safely conduct this hearing. We have. And I think it's been - it's off to a good start. So I do care about everybody's safety. But as a lot of Americans out there, we have to go to work. And you can't demand not to show up to work unless everybody you may come in contact was tested, whether they need to or not.

CHANG: Now, in terms of their concerns about the nominee, Democrats largely focused on health care. The Supreme Court is slated to hear a lawsuit on November 10, a lawsuit supported by the Trump administration that challenges the Affordable Care Act. Many Democrats pointed to posters with photos of constituents who depend on the ACA for coverage.

(SOUNDBITE OF MONTAGE)

AMY KLOBUCHAR: America, this is about you. It's about these two girls up here, Evelyn (ph) and Mariah (ph).

CHRIS COONS: Listen to the voice of Carrie (ph), who's behind me to my right.

SHELDON WHITEHOUSE: Here's one person to consider, Laura (ph).

CHANG: Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah told Barrett he was confident that she would decide any future cases based on the law and that her position on certain policies wasn't relevant.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MIKE LEE: If you were to look at any of the countless posters put up in here, you'd think that this was a political discussion, a policy discussion, a legislative discussion. You, in fact, are not being reviewed for a legislative position or a policymaking position. You're being reviewed for a position on our nation's highest court. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

KUER is listener-supported public radio. Support this work by making a donation today.