Dems acknowledge Barrett likely to be confirmed, warn of 'conservative judicial activism'

The committee vote for the judge is scheduled for Oct. 22

Democrats cautioned Wednesday that the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett could spark a new chapter of conservative judicial activism.

They simultaneously conceded that the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge, who sought to be portrayed as a moderate jurist in a hearing before Senate Judiciary Committee, would likely be confirmed by a party-line vote before Election Day.


The confirmation would be in time for the high court to hear the latest legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act, which opponents used as their main argument against Barrett.

The Trump administration and Republican-led states are hoping to topple the Obama-era law after Congress eliminated its tax penalty for those who lack health insurance.

Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett speaks during the third day of her confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. (Bill Clark/Pool via AP)

Barrett's appointment would create a 6-3 conservative majority, something Democratic senators like Delaware's Chris Coons are reportedly wary of.

“Your confirmation may launch a new chapter of conservative judicial activism," said Coons. "It could touch virtually every aspect of modern American life.”

Yet while the hearings for Barrett's confirmation have been contentious, they've also been largely civil compared with those for Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

While viewers saw partisan grandstanding -- with Democrats evoking Roe v. Wade and Republicans raising concerns about court-packing if they lose the Senate and White House -- GOP predictions that Democrats would attack the nominee's religion never materialized -- at least in the hearings.

In such a deeply divided political process, some of those watching Thursday were shocked to see Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., hug committee chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican.

At one point on Wednesday, Feinstein told Barrett, 48, that she was "really impressed" in response to a description of the legal principles she would have to take into account in the upcoming constitutional dispute against the ACA.

Graham himself asked the Trump nominee questions about issues close to Democrats, including abortion rights and same-sex marriage.

But Democrats such as Illinois' Sen. Dick Durbin and 2020 vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris wanted more from Barrett on issues like gun regulation and the Voting Rights Act.


The committee vote for the judge is scheduled for 1 p.m. ET on Oct. 22 and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said he will introduce Barrett's nomination on the Senate floor the next day.

She would be confirmed within the following three or four days, during which senators will have time to debate on the floor.