Interview: Amy Coney Barrett’s “unprecedented” Supreme Court confirmation process, explained


(KTXL) — The promise was to confirm a new Justice to the Supreme Court before Election Day.

Senators met in a rare Sunday session, deciding to advance the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett in a 51 to 48 vote — another oddity in a process that has been full of them as the President has worked to fill the seat of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine says the final confirmation will happen without her support in order to remain “fair and consistent” following the precedent set four years ago to not vote on a nominee prior to a presidential election.

But that move from Collins won’t stop Barrett from being added to the Supreme Court, and neither will the all-night talk-a-thon Democrats staged on the floor in protest.

“Justices typically don’t choose to retire right close to a presidential election, so you don’t usually have replacements that you have to make in the year of an election. Usually, it’s because one of the members of the Court has died, and that unfortunately happened here,” Pacific Law professor Clark Kelson told FOX40.

Kelson added that the “speed of the confirmation process is definitely unusual.”

Also unusual was the lack of organized opposition, he said.

“Everyone knew that the Republicans very quickly had enough votes to make this nomination happen,” Kelson said. “It was a much calmer hearing, where the Democrats mostly spent their time talking about mostly upcoming Supreme Court cases,” compared to the hearings of now-Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, both Trump’s picks.

Ginsburg has died five weeks ago, and the speedy confirmation, Kelson said, reminds the public that “politicians are politicians.”

“The Merrick Garland rule was made up simply because the Republicans had control of the Senate,” he added.

“Does this push us a little further in the direction of power determining who gets on the Court, who’s in the Presidency, who’s in the Senate? Yeah, I think it makes a pretty strong signal to the public that the only way to control these sort of things is to vote.”

This conformation also affects how the public perceives now perceives the Court.

“Chief Justice Roberts has been trying to sell the idea and the reality that the Court is independent,” Kelson said. “The timing of this one certainly emphasizes a little bit of the contrary, and certainly what the President says: these are his judges.”

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