Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Sunday that Democrats will be able to “slow” Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation process but “can’t stop” it.
During an appearance on ABC’s “This Week,” Durbin confirmed an ABC News report that Democrats are without a “silver bullet” for stopping Barrett’s confirmation before the Nov. 3 election.
“That’s true,” Durbin told host George Stephanopoulos.
President Donald Trump formally nominated Barrett on Saturday to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, moving one step closer to establishing a 6-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court.
Durbin said the timing and even the outcome of the confirmation process could change if at least four GOP senators speak out against holding it ahead of Election Day. So far, Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine are the only Republicans who have done so.
Democratic strategists ― including Adam Jentleson, who served as deputy chief of staff for former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) ― have outlined ways they believe Democrats could derail Barrett’s confirmation.
But Durbin said Sunday that such plans could only temporarily stall the process.
“We can slow it down perhaps a matter of hours ― maybe days at the most ― but we can’t stop the outcome,” Durbin said.
He added that Democrats should address Barrett’s nomination “respectfully” but also understand the context: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) claimed to have no time to attend to negotiations on coronavirus relief legislation, but was willing to drop everything to push Barrett’s confirmation through the Senate ahead of Election Day.
“Now we’re going hellbent on getting this done before the election,” Durbin said of McConnell’s efforts. “And the second thing, of course, he reversed the position he took four years ago saying we should wait for the next president to fill the vacancy.”
Democrats have accused Republicans of being hypocrites for flip-flopping on the issue of confirming a Supreme Court justice during a presidential election year. In 2016, McConnell blocked Merrick Garland, then-President Barack Obama’s pick to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
McConnell had said Garland’s confirmation would be too close to the election and that whoever won the presidency should pick the nominee. But McConnell and many of Trump’s Republican allies changed course following Ginsburg’s death earlier this month.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who vehemently opposed confirming Garland because of the process’s proximity to the 2016 election, has said he supports Trump’s push to swiftly confirm Barrett.
Graham said Saturday that his committee will begin Barrett’s confirmation hearings on Monday, Oct. 12 with opening statements. Tuesday and Wednesday of that week will be reserved for committee members to ask Barrett questions before the committee begins the markup process that Thursday.