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How Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination process is unique…and isn’t

Oct 26, 2020, 5:29 AM | Updated: 8:04 am

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senators are set to vote Monday on the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the United States Supreme Court. 

While Republicans have been largely enthusiastic about President Donald Trump’s choice, Democrats have called the nomination unprecedented. 

Amy Coney Barrett’s situation is unique in that, should she be confirmed as expected, it would come eight days before an election. This would be the closest to a presidential election that a Supreme Court nominee has been confirmed in history. 

Democrats have been angry because most Republicans stopped a vote on Judge Merrick Garland four years ago, arguing it should not be done in an election year. It was a similar argument some Democratic senators made in 1992, though there was no vacancy on the court at the time. 

However, it is constitutional for any president to nominate someone during an election year. Since 1900, for example, there have been at least six justices confirmed in election years. Most were nominated that same year. 

Former Justice Anthony Kennedy was the last Supreme Court nominee to be confirmed in an election year in 1988. 

Slow walking, stalling, or opposing a candidate for a justice of the Supreme Court is also not prohibited in The Constitution.  

Another way Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination process is different from others is that it cannot be filibustered. 

Senate Republicans did away with the filibuster rule in 2017 to help the nomination of now Justice Neal Gorsuch. A simple majority is all that is needed for confirmation. Senate Democrats had originally gotten rid of the filibuster rules for lower-level judges when they were in control in 2013. 

That leaves Amy Coney Barrett’s opponents with few options to stop her nomination, though Democrats have declined to shut down the government over it.

In an unprecedented move, Democrats boycotted a recent Senate Judiciary Committee meeting. However, it was mostly symbolic, as her nomination was easily passed out of committee.

On Sunday the Senate voted 51-49 to move forward with 30 hours of debate ahead of a final confirmation vote expected on Monday evening. 

If Judge Coney Barrett is confirmed, she will be the fifth woman ever to sit on the Supreme Court.

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How Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination process is unique…and isn’t