The Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday advanced the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court in a 12-0 vote with only Republicans participating.
Democrats boycotted the vote because they consider the process illegitimate, with Republicans fast-tracking Barrett's nomination so close to the presidential election. The GOP has been "conducting the most rushed, the most partisan, and the least legitimate nomination to the Supreme Court in the nation's history," Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said at a news conference, The Washington Post reports.
Democrats said Republicans on the committee broke the rules in order to hold the vote, as the rules generally require at least two members of the minority party to be present to hold a vote.
But Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, the committee's chairman, said it was Democrats' choice to boycott the vote, and "it will be my choice to vote the nominee out of the committee. We're not going to allow them to take over the committee." The full Senate is scheduled to vote on Barrett's confirmation Monday.
Barrett's views on many subjects have alarmed liberals. While she avoided offering specifics during her confirmation hearings last week, in her speeches and writings she has criticized the Supreme Court's marriage equality ruling and its decision upholding the Affordable Care Act, has said sex discrimination laws do not cover anti-transgender discrimination, and made her opposition to abortion clear. She has been a trustee for a group of Christian schools that discriminate against LGBTQ+ people and is a member of an organization called People of Praise, which believes that wives should be subservient to their husbands. She is currently a federal appeals court judge and has been a law professor at the University of Notre Dame.
"Last week Democrats participated in the nomination hearings because we wanted to show what was at stake for America if Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed. We made our case about risks to affordable care, especially the Affordable Care Act, reproductive freedom, the right to vote, and equality for all," Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the committee, said at the news conference, according to the Post. "We believe both the Affordable Care Act and Roe v. Wade could be lost."
In November, the court will hear a case in which Donald Trump's administration is seeking to have the ACA declared unconstitutional. It will also hear one brought by a Catholic foster care agency that lost a contract with the city of Philadelphia because it would not obey the city's antidiscrimination law and claimed the right to reject LGBTQ+ people who wanted to foster children, along with others who offended the agency's religious beliefs.
Graham said Barrett's own religious beliefs -- she is a conservative Catholic -- will not affect her decisions on the court. "It's OK to be a complete person and be on the Supreme Court. It's OK to be pro-life," he said before the vote. "She embraces the pro-life cause in her personal life, but she understands judging is not a cause, it is a process. She embraces her faith like millions of other Americans."
Democrats have also objected to the timing of Barrett's nomination and confirmation. In 2016, when Justice Antonin Scalia died, President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland as his successor eight months before the election, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, would not allow hearings or take a vote on Garland, saying the next president should make the choice. Trump nominated Barrett shortly after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death in September, with less than two months to go until the election, and Republicans moved ahead with hearings and a vote.