Democratic vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris has alleged that the Republicans are defying the will of the people by rushing the Senate confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the US Supreme Court and called on to postpone the process until after Americans decide on November 3 who they want in the White House.
President Donald Trump has selected Judge Barrett to succeed Supreme Court Justice late Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
During the Supreme Court confirmation hearing of Judge Barrett on Monday, Harris condemned the idea of holding the process amid the COVID-19 pandemic and an outbreak among members of the committee.
Two Republican members of the Judiciary Committee — Senator Mike Lee (Utah) and Senator Thom Tillis (North Carolina) — have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Harris said the ruling Republican Party is rushing the Senate confirmation process of Supreme Court nominee Barrett, with the presidential election just three weeks away.
The US Constitution provides the Senate with a solemn duty to carefully consider nominations for lifetime appointments to the Supreme Court, yet the Senate majority is rushing this process and jamming of President Trump”s nominee through the Senate, while people are actually voting, just 22 days before the end of the election, she said.
Appearing remotely from her office before the Senate Judiciary Committee, of which she is an important Democratic member, Harris, taking time off from the campaign said more than nine million Americans have already voted and millions more will vote while “this illegitimate committee process is underway”.
“A clear majority of Americans want whomever wins in the selection to fill the seat, and my Republican colleagues know that, yet they are deliberately defying the will of the people in their attempt to roll back the rights and protections provided under the Affordable Care Act,” said the 55-year-old Senator from California.
Harris alleged that Senate Republicans have made it crystal clear that rushing a Supreme Court nomination is more important than helping and supporting the American people who are suffering from a deadly pandemic and a devastating economic crisis.
“Their priorities are not the American people”s priorities. But for the moment, Senate Republicans hold a majority in the Senate and determine the schedule, so here we are,” she said asserting that she does believe this hearing is a clear attempt to jam through a Supreme Court nominee who will take healthcare away from millions of people during a deadly pandemic that has already killed more than 214,000 Americans.
“I believe we must listen to our constituents and protect their access to healthcare and wait to confirm a new Supreme Court justice until after Americans decide who they want in the White House,” Harris said in her remarks before the committee through video conferencing.
Condemning the Senate Judiciary Committee for holding the hearing amid the coronavirus pandemic, she said the hearing has brought together more than 50 people to sit inside of a closed door room for hours, while the nation is facing a deadly airborne virus.
“This committee has ignored common sense requests to keeping people safe, including not requiring testing for all members, despite a coronavirus outbreak among senators of this very committee,” Harris said.
“This hearing should have been postponed. The decision to hold this hearing now is reckless and places facilities workers, janitorial staff and congressional aides and Capitol police at risk,” she said.
Monday”s hearing was devoted to opening statements among all of the senators on the committee.
Meanwhile, in her opening remarks, Judge Barrett said, if confirmed, it would be the honour of a lifetime to serve alongside the chief justice and seven associate justices.
“I admire them all and would consider each a valued colleague. And I might bring a few new perspectives to the bench. As the president noted when he announced my nomination, I would be the first mother of school-age children to serve on the court,” she said.
“If I am fortunate enough to be confirmed, I pledge to faithfully and impartially discharge my duties to the American people as an associate justice of the Supreme Court,” Barrett said.
Barrett said courts have a vital responsibility to the rule of law, which is critical to a free society.
“But courts are not designed to solve every problem or right every wrong in our public life. The policy decisions and value judgments of government must be made by the political branches elected by and accountable to the people. The public should not expect courts to do so, and courts should not try,” she said.
“I try to remain mindful that, while my court decides thousands of cases a year, each case is the most important one to the litigants involved. After all, cases are not like statutes, which are often named for their authors. Cases are named for the parties who stand to gain or lose in the real world, often through their liberty or livelihood,” Barrett said.