The Republican-led Senate Judiciary Committee has kicked-off a four-day confirmation hearing for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, US President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, as party members push for a final floor vote amidst a raging partisan battle over the vacant seat the before November 3 Election Day.
Trump nominated the conservative federal appellate judge last month to replace late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a leading liberal voice on the Supreme Court, reports Xinhua news agency.
The first day of the hearing on Monday was devoted to opening statements from members of the panel, followed by that of Barrett.
Questioning of the nominee will begin on Tuesday and last through Wednesday. Outside witnesses will testify for and against Barrett on Thursday.
Trump successfully appointed two conservatives to the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch in 2017 and Brett Kavanaugh in 2018, tilting the institution to the right with a 5-4 majority.
Barrett, if confirmed by the Senate, would give the conservative wing a solid 6-3 advantage at the high court.
At age 48, she would also be the youngest member of the nine-justice bench and likely serve for the decades to come.
Democrats have opposed moving forward with a vote on Ginsburg’s replacement so close to the election, citing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s 2016 decision to block then President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee because it was an election year.
McConnell has argued that this time is different because the Senate and the White House are held by the same party.
However, with 53 seats in the 100-member Senate, Republicans appear to have enough votes to approve Trump’s third Supreme Court pick and intend to hold a confirmation vote before the November election with an eye to energizing the conservative base.
Only two Republican senators showed opposition to taking up a nominee prior to Election Day.
A Catholic and mother of seven, Barrett was nominated in 2017 by Trump for the US Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, which covers the states of Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin, and was later confirmed by the Republican-led Senate with a 55-43 bipartisan vote.
The jurist previously served on the faculty of the Notre Dame Law School, teaching on constitutional law, federal courts, and statutory interpretation. Prior to that, she clerked for Judge Laurence Silberman of the US Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and for the conservative Associate Justice Antonin Scalia of the Supreme Court, who died in 2016.