Senate Democrats have openly opposed the confirmation process of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, but procedurally speaking, there is little that they can do to delay or derail the effort of Republicans to complete the process by Election Day.
That was evident on Wednesday when Democrats revealed their plan to conduct the ineffectual and meaningless gesture of boycotting the planned confirmation vote set for the following day in the Senate Judiciary Committee — even as their absence wouldn’t change anything, the Associated Press reported.
Boycotting the confirmation vote
The planned boycott of the Thursday committee vote in a floor speech by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who asserted: “We should not be moving forward on this nomination.”
The thought behind the boycott is that committee rules require at least two members of the minority party to be present in order for there to be a quorum so that committee business can be conducted. That thinking is flawed, however, given that the committee rules are, generally speaking, mere formalities and traditions that can be bent or changed on a whim.
Indeed, the AP noted that a Republican aide made it clear that, boycott or not, Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) fully intended to hold a vote on Barrett’s nomination on Thursday.
Temper tantrums and futile gestures
TheBlaze reported that, in addition to Schumer’s floor speech on Wednesday, the minority leader and committee Democrats issued a statement announcing their intent to boycott the vote, calling the entire process a “sham” and railing against Republicans for having broken prior promises and violated norms and traditions.
“Throughout the hearings last week, committee Democrats demonstrated the damage a Justice Barrett would do — to health care, reproductive freedoms, the ability to vote, and other core rights that Americans cherish,” the Democrats said. “We will not grant this process any further legitimacy by participating in a committee markup of this nomination just twelve days before the culmination of an election that is already underway.”
Senate Judiciary Democrats say they’ll boycott tomorrow’s vote on Amy Coney Barrett: “We will not grant this process any further legitimacy by participating in a committee markup of this nomination just twelve days before the culmination of an election that is already underway.” pic.twitter.com/k3qYrZi2Iq
— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) October 21, 2020
Interestingly, that statement decrying the supposed lack of legitimacy of the confirmation process and committee hearings was signed off on by ranking member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who just last week earned the ire of her fellow Democrats for having congratulated Graham and Barrett on how the hearings had been conducted, TheBlaze noted.
Barrett confirmed 12-0 by committee Republicans
Of course, the boycott was an empty and meaningless gesture that did absolutely nothing to slow down the confirmation process for Barrett, as committee Republicans went ahead with the planned vote despite the absence of the Democratic colleagues, The Hill reported.
In fact, Graham wasn’t even compelled to change the rule to get around the requirement for a quorum as he simply ignored it in favor of another rule that stated that no fewer than 12 members would be required in order to pass along a nomination from the committee to the floor for a full vote. Given that there are 12 Republican members of the committee, that requirement was satisfied and Barrett’s nomination was confirmed by the committee with a 12-0 vote.
“As you know, our Democratic colleagues informed the committee last night that they will not participate in the hearing. That was their choice,” Graham said, according to The Hill. “It will be my choice to vote the nominee out of committee. We’re not going to allow them to take over the committee.”