The United States Senate began on Monday hearing Justice Amy Coney Barrett, appointed by Donald Trump to the Supreme Court despite opposition from Democrats. The latter, however, have little leverage to prevent its confirmation before the November 3 election.
The 48-year-old magistrate was chosen on September 26 by the Republican president to succeed feminist and progressive icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died eight days earlier of cancer.
Under the Constitution, she must obtain the approval of the Senate to enter the temple of American law, where five out of nine Conservative judges already sit.
Democrats and their presidential candidate, Joe Biden, are clamoring to wait for the verdict of the ballot box to fill this hugely influential lifelong post, but Donald Trump wants to move forward as quickly as possible to satisfy religious right voters.
On Monday morning, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, made it clear what is at stake for his camp: “This helps President Trump”, who is struggling in the polls three weeks before the election.
“If you want to fight over Amy Barrett, you’ll have a battle,” he told Fox to his opponents as the judge moved to Congress with her family.
A practicing Catholic, mother of seven children, two of whom are adopted and a youngest with Down’s syndrome, the magistrate is very well seen in traditionalist Christian circles, whose values she shares, starting with an open opposition to abortion.
Ella once said her “cause” was to “serve the kingdom of God.”
The question of faith
But the magistrate, known for her chiseled legal arguments, ensures that she distinguishes her personal convictions from her work as a judge.
Before the Senate, she should stress that she always strives to do her “best to achieve the result required by law, whatever [ses] personal preferences ”.
“Courts are not made to solve every problem or right every wrong in our public life. Public policy decisions […] must be taken by the political branches which are elected and accountable to the people, ”she said in her presentation, published by several media.
Her supporters believe she is the victim of a primary hostility towards religion.
“The continuing attacks by Democratic senators and the media on Judge Barrett’s faith are a disgrace,” Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said.
“I hope she has an honest hearing and that there will be no further attacks on her Christian faith,” said Vice President Mike Pence during his debate with Joe Biden’s running mate Kamala Harris.
In a country where only a quarter of the population declares itself to be atheist or without religion, the latter has taken care to avoid the pitfall.
“Joe Biden and I are people of faith and it is insulting to suggest that we might dismiss someone because of their faith,” said the senator, who sits on the judicial committee responsible for questioning Mr.me Barrett.
Without attacking the judge, however, Kamala Harris reiterated that it was impossible to confirm her, when “four million Americans have already voted” in advance.
Without elaborating on the right to abortion which divides Americans, she insisted on the fact that a revamped Supreme Court risked first overturning President Barack Obama’s emblematic law, known as ACA or Obamacare, which extended health insurance to millions of people.
Few means to block
Despite their opposition to Judge ACB’s confirmation, Democrats actually have little means to block the process.
Mitch McConnell controls the timetable and procedure in the Senate. Republicans also have a majority of 53 out of 100 seats in the upper house of Congress.
Even though two of their elected officials – Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins – have said they will not vote for Judge Barrett until Nov. 3, Republicans seemingly have enough votes to give the magistrate the green light quickly.
Only COVID-19 could threaten their schedule: three Republican senators, Mike Lee, Thom Tillis and Ron Johnson have indeed tested positive for the coronavirus and went into solitary confinement ten days ago.
The three men will have to be physically present for the vote in plenary, which could pose a health security problem.
As proof of their determination to snatch the victory ahead of the poll, Ron Johnson said he was ready to come in “astronaut gear” if necessary.