Schumer announces Dems will not supply the quorum for Barrett confirmation vote

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U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, the New York Democrat, plans to use parliamentary tricks to delay or defeat Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court. This amounts to

“Democrats will not supply the quorum, period,” he vowed in a Sunday press conference, essentially announcing that senators opposing the nomination will boycott any required procedural votes.. A quorum, in this scenario, is the minimum number of senators required to procedurally move the nomination from the Senate Judiciary Committee to the Senate floor for a final, up-or-down vote. A quorum in the GOP-controlled committee is nine, including two Democrats, hence the potential roadblock.

Unexpected developments can occur during a Supreme Court confirmation process, as the Brett Kavanaugh hearings (among others) demonstrated, but Chairman Lindsay Graham publicly indicated that he planned on holding a meeting to vote out the nomination from committee on October 22 (under long-established rules that allow Democrats to insist on a one-week delay after hearings conclude) and then on to a final vote on the Senate floor prior to Election Day pursuant to the chamber’s arcane procedural methods.

It’s likely that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has war-gamed  potential delaying tactics and presumably has his own plan in readiness

According to Fox News, moreover, “Most notably, the Senate can vote on a discharge resolution that would remove the responsibility of considering the Barrett nomination from the committee, allowing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to call the nomination for a full vote.”

COVID could pose a complication to the confirmation, however.

“There are 53 Republicans in the Senate, meaning that even if all Democrats boycott the final floor vote they will not be able to stop Republicans from having a quorum. But if any of the three Republican senators who are currently recovering from the coronavirus are still under quarantine at that time, or if there are new cases in the GOP caucus, that could complicate things logistically for Republicans.”

Without evidence, Schumer claimed that Barrett’s confirmation process that would potentially make her the ninth justice and bring the high court up to full strength  is “illegitimate, dangerous, and unpopular.”

Democrats are still nursing a grudge over the fact the GOP declined to give a hearing to Obama Supreme Court nominee Judge Merrick Garland for a seat that was ultimately filled by Trump nominee Neil Gorsuch. Given the Democrats historical (and sometimes hysterical) obstructionism over past federal court nominees, their complaints border on hypocrisy and projection. As been stated over and over, however, the Biden rule, a.k.a. the McConnell rule, that short-circuits any Supreme Court nominations in an election year, only applies when there is divided government between the White House and the U.S. Senate.

Chuck Schumer also wants Barrett to promise to recuse (i.e., not participate) in any cases involving Obamacare or the 2020 election. The hearing on Barrett’s confirmation to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg starts today, and the judge will likely insist that she will evaluate such cases objectively and based on the law rather than with preconceived notions.

Prior to Schumer’s announcement, Politico claimed that “With no procedural tools to stop Barrett from getting confirmed to the Supreme Court, the only weapon Democrats have is messaging.” Kavanaugh and anyone else in America and around the world who was paying attention understands what the Democrats consider “messaging.”



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