With Hearings Behind Her, Coney Barrett’s Confirmation Appears Clear

Last week, Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee for nearly 20 hours.

The relatively low-key proceedings before the Committee contrasted starkly with the sensationalism and drama that surrounded the nomination of now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Lindsey Graham (R-SC) speculated that Democrats may “believe they’re in good shape politically, presidentially…[and] probably don’t want this hearing to rock that boat.” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) added that the lack of rhetorical fireworks may also be based upon a recognition that Judge Barrett is likely to be confirmed.

In any event, Judge Barrett handled herself well in the hearings. Senate Democrats were unsuccessful in their efforts to persuade the judge to take positions on cases that might be brought before the Court. According to some reports, Senate Democrats engaged in a coordinated effort to focus the hearings on policy issues (specifically, on the possibility of the Affordable Care Act being overturned). Their attacks on Judge Barrett ranged from the tedious (pointing out that Judge Barrett neglected to include some of her past speeches on her Supreme Court application) to the ridiculous (reprimanding Judge Barrett for using the term “sexual preference”) to the offensive (Judge Masie Hirono asking the married mother of seven whether she has ever perpetrated sexual misconduct).

Reflecting upon the hearings, Jason McGuire, executive director of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, said:

“Judge Amy Coney Barrett was unflappable. The memory recall that Ms. Barrett demonstrated while discussing work she had been involved in decades ago, let alone her understanding of case law, was remarkable. I don’t think I have ever witnessed a confirmation hearing where it was so clear that the nominee was as ready for the office as soon-to-be Associate Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett was.”

Barring any last-minute surprises, it seems likely that Judge Barrett will be confirmed by the Senate before Election Day.