Supreme Court confirmation hearings to start in two weeks

US President Donald Trump announces his US Supreme Court nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett (R), in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC on September 26, 2020.

Olivier Douliery| AFP | Getty Images

Hearings to consider President Donald Trump’s nominee to fill the Supreme Court seat vacated after the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg are set to begin Oct. 12, Senator Lindsey Graham said late Saturday.

The announcement from Graham, who leads the Senate Judiciary Committee, came hours after Trump formally named Amy Coney Barrett as his selection, the third nomination of his tenure so far.

The move, coming less than 40 days before the Nov. 3 general election, shows the accelerated timeline in which Trump and other Republicans hope to install Barrett.

The time from nomination to the start of Senate hearings for the previous three Supreme Court justices have taken more than three times longer than in this case.

“Judge Barrett has a sterling academic and legal background, having clerked for Judge Laurence Silberman on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals and Justice Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court,” Graham said in his statement.

Barrett later became a professor at Notre Dame Law School for 15 years before being named by Trump as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in 2017.

Trump’s nomination has seized attention in an already intense election cycle dominated by the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing economic collapse.

The development, set into motion by the Sept. 18 death of Bader Ginsburg, is considered a victory for conservatives. If Barrett is confirmed, conservatives would hold a 6-3 majority on the highest American court. Trump appears to have enough support from Senate Republicans to confirm Barrett without a single Democrat.

Meanwhile, Democrats have warned that the move will imperil abortion rights for women and the availability of health care for millions of Americans under the Affordable Care Act.

They have also decried a nomination so close to a national election, a move that Graham and other Republicans have said was wrong on principle in 2016 when it applied to former President Obama’s selection Merrick Garland.

The hearings will last three to four days, according to Graham, who faces a hotly contested race for his own South Carolina Senate seat.

Opening statements from the Judiciary Committee and Barrett are scheduled for Oct. 12, followed by questioning and testimony from “those who know Judge Barrett the best,” according to Graham.

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