The Judiciary Committee will hold hearings starting Oct. 12. Here is what’s next.

The Judiciary Committee will hold hearings starting Oct. 12. Here is what’s next.


Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican majority leader, has already vowed that the Senate will vote on President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee by the end of the year, though he has not made clear whether that will happen before Election Day, Nov. 3.

Now that Mr. Trump has announced his selection of Judge Amy Coney Barrett for the court’s open seat, what comes next? Here are some of the crucial questions to determine how it will play out.

What happens next? Judge Barrett will have to answer an elaborate questionnaire, which the Senate will examine. She’ll also begin calling and meeting with senators as they scrub her background and legal writings.

The 22 members of the Judiciary Committee, which is led by Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a staunch Trump ally, will hold confirmation hearings for four consecutive days beginning Oct. 12. That is considerably faster than recent Supreme Court nominations, cutting the time to prepare for the hearings by about two-thirds.

After the hearings, the committee will vote on whether to recommend the nomination to the full Senate, a meeting Republicans have tentatively scheduled for Oct. 22. If that schedule holds, the full Senate would vote on whether to confirm Judge Barrett the final week of October, just a week before Election Day.

Does Mr. McConnell have the votes to confirm a nominee? It appears so.

Because Republicans hold a 53 to 47 majority, Democrats would need four Republican senators to join them in opposition to sink Judge Barrett.

Two Republicans, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, had said they opposed filling the seat until voters decide the presidency. Ms. Collins has stood by that view, warning that she will not vote to confirm Mr. Trump’s nominee before Election Day, period. Ms. Murkowski now appears more open to doing so, but as a vocal proponent of abortion rights, she is expected to look warily on Judge Barrett.

All 51 other Republicans so far appear to be content with the nominee, and given their eagerness to fill the vacancy with a conservative and the tight timetable, they are going to be hesitant to break with their party leaders.

Can Democrats block Trump’s nominee through a filibuster? No.

Democrats eliminated the 60-vote threshold for most judicial nominees in 2013, frustrated by Republicans’ use of the filibuster to slow and impede President Barack Obama’s agenda. In turn, angered by resistance to the nomination of Justice Neil M. Gorsuch in 2017, Republicans abolished the limitation on Supreme Court nominees.

As a result, Mr. McConnell could bring the nomination to the Senate floor and approve it with a simple majority vote.

What effect will the election have on the vacancy? For many Republican senators up for re-election this year, the ideal situation might be to begin the confirmation process quickly, injecting it into the political bloodstream and energizing conservative voters, but waiting until after Election Day — when vulnerable incumbents no longer have to worry about being cast out by angry independent and liberal voters — to hold a confirmation vote.

What if Republicans lose the White House, the Senate or both? Could they still confirm Mr. Trump’s nominee after the election? Yes.

Congress typically reconvenes after Election Day for a lame-duck session, when lawmakers act on unfinished business before adjourning for the year. Since the newly elected members would not be seated until the new Congress convened in January, Republicans would remain in control of the Senate even if they had lost their majority.

Similarly, if he were to lose on Election Day, Mr. Trump would remain president until Joseph R. Biden Jr. assumed office in January.



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