The US Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony Thursday from outside witnesses on the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett. The final day started with a battle between parties. Senate Republicans pushed to have Barrett’s vote for nomination next week, on October 22 at 1 PM while the Democrats argued this violated committee rules.
Democrats argued that this hearing needed to be postponed due to the committee rules that at least two members of the minority party be present to conduct any business. The only Democrat present was, Senator Richard Durbin. In the hearing, Durbin stated: “I want to take official note of the fact that I am the only member of the minority that is here, and so we cannot conduct business until that second member of the minority arrives.”
Chairman of the committee, Republican Lindsay Graham, rejected this claim, saying that it was clear to him that the committee would be prevented from operating as usual. Graham said that it was not his fault, but the Democrats’ fault for requiring they violate the minimum of two minority members being present rule.
The first of the outside witnesses were from the American Bar Association’s nonpartisan standing committee. They determined that Barrett was fit to serve on the US Supreme Court. Randall Noel, the chairman of the standing committee said: “The standing committee concluded that Judge Barrett’s integrity, judicial temperament, professional competence met the very high standards for appointment to our Supreme Court.”
Professor Saikrishna Prakash of the University of Virginia’s School of Law said that referring to Barrett as simply “qualifed” was an understatement. Prakash said that Barrett was an incredible selection with the utmost character and academic prestige who would be a fantastic Supreme Court Justice.
Laura Wolk was a student of Judge Barrett’s at Notre Dame. Wolk is known for being the first blind woman to serve as a law clerk on the Supreme Court. She testified that Barrett was what allowed her to excel at Notre Dame’s Law School. She attributed Barrett’s warmth and kindness to her own success.
The Democrats took the approach of calling witnesses who showed the impacts that Barrett’s rulings will have on the American people. Chrystal Good of West Virginia was called to testify on why having access to safe abortions is a vital human right that benefits our society. Good unexpectedly became pregnant at 16 and testified that if she had not had access to an abortion, her life would have been dismantled. Good ended her testimony by emphasizing what would happen to young girls and women if Roe vs. Wade were overturned, saying: “Please, listen to people who have abortions. Hear us when we ask you, do not confirm this nominee. Our futures, families, and lives depend on it.”
Another witness was called to testify that Barrett is likely to overrule the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Stacy Staggs, the mother of twin 7-year-old girls with pre-existing conditions, testified that without the protection of the ACA, her little girls would have already maxed out on their lifetime insurance caps and would be uninsurable.