Supreme Court: Amy Coney Barrett’s hearing began in a tense context


Even before this long-awaited candidacy was examined on Monday, it was outside Congress that supporters and opponents of conservative magistrate Amy Coney Barrett faced each other, before the police carried out about twenty arrests.

About twenty demonstrators, present in front of Congress in protest at the hearing of Amy Coney Barrett were arrested on Monday. AFP / Olivier DOULIERY

Then the Senate was able to start questioning this judge appointed by Donald Trump to the Supreme Court, in the face of elected Republican admiring a “brilliant” lawyer and Democrats criticizing an “irresponsible” schedule in the midst of a pandemic and “illegitimate” if near the elections.

“It’s going to be a long week of quarrels,” admitted the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Republican Lindsey Graham, who planned to devote four days to examining this candidacy.

Five conservative and three progressive judges

Judge Barrett, 48, was chosen by the Republican President on September 26 to succeed feminist and progressive icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died of cancer. With 22 days of the presidential election, she presented herself to the Senate, charged by the Constitution to endorse her nomination, an exercise considered for granted given the Republican majority in this chamber.

She took off her black mask and swore, hand raised, to tell “the whole truth”. Sitting behind her, six of her seven children listened to her promise to “apply the Constitution and the laws as they are written.”

This so-called “textualist” reading of Law is popular in the most conservative circles who accuse the Supreme Court of having moved away from the thinking of the founding fathers to change certain rights, in particular on abortion or same-sex marriage. . They hope that the arrival of Amy Barrett in this court, which has five conservative and three progressive judges, slows down or even reverses the trend.

“A titan of Law who drives a mini-van”

The magistrate is also very well seen on the religious right because she is a practicing Catholic and shares the traditional vision of the family advocated by the Vatican. “I believe in the power of prayers,” she said again on Monday. His faith, and his large family, were praised by Republicans, as were his qualities as a lawyer. “He’s a titan of the Law who drives a minivan,” said Senator Mike Brown in reference to his family minivan.

In a country where only a quarter of the population claims to be an atheist or without religion, the Democrats have been careful not to advance on this minefield. “His faith should not be taken into consideration,” Joe Biden, Donald Trump’s rival, told reporters on the sidelines of a trip. They opted for another angle of attack: the criticism expressed by the judge against the law of former President Barack Obama, which extended health coverage to millions of Americans.

Three senators positive for coronavirus

Amy Coney Barrett “said she wanted to get rid” of Obamacare, said the Democratic candidate, recalling that, in a month, the Supreme Court would consider an appeal by Republicans against this law. The Democratic senators followed suit: photos of beneficiaries of this law in support, they assured that these sick Americans would be the big losers of a revamped Supreme Court.

Aware of having few levers to prevent the Senate from confirming Judge Barrett, Democrats have used this forum to refocus the debate on the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 210,000. Senator Kamala Harris, Joe Biden’s running mate, lambasted the “irresponsible” attitude of his fellow Republicans who decided to organize these hearings although three elected officials were tested positive ten days ago.

The vice-presidential candidate also considered “illegitimate” a process so close to the ballot. But for Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, “the Senate is performing its constitutional duty.” This close to the president is betting on a vote in plenary next week.

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