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Politics: Republicans on Senate panel to vote on Amy Coney Barrett's Supreme Court nomination as Democrats boycott hearing

Barrett back on Capitol Hill for senators' final questions

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WASHINGTON – The Senate panel tasked with vetting Amy Coney Barrett is set to approve her nomination to the Supreme Court on Thursday, meaning the federal appeals court judge could take her place as the ninth member of the high court by early next week, when the full Senate votes to confirm her.  

The Senate Judiciary Committee is set to meet at 9 a.m. EDT. Barrett is expected to be approved by Republicans who hold the majority on the panel, with Democrats saying they will boycott the day's proceedings. The full Senate is expected to take a final vote on Barrett's confirmation on Monday, eight days before Election Day.  

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Democrats said they would boycott Thursday's hearing and vote, hoping to prevent the committee from establishing a quorum. Instead, Democrats plan to hold a press conference Thursday morning during the hearing. The boycott effort appeared to be a longshot attempt at stalling the federal judge's confirmation to the high court but Republicans vowed to move forward, with or without Democrats present. 

a woman with pink hair taking a selfie: Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett speaks during a confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington. © Susan Walsh, AP Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett speaks during a confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

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Sen. Lindsey Graham, who chairs the Judiciary Committee, said the panel would vote regardless. "Judge Barrett deserves a vote and she will receive a vote," he said, adding, "As to my Democratic colleagues’ refusal to attend the markup, that is a choice they are making. I believe it does a disservice to Judge Barrett who deserves a vote, up or down."

Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett moves closer to Senate confirmation as hearing ends

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The Senate Judiciary Committee's rules outline that at least nine members of the majority (Republicans) and at least two members of the minority (Democrats) need to be present to conduct business. 

While Democrats boycotting the hearing would technically mean the committee's rules would bar Republicans from moving forward on Barrett's nomination, it's likely not to stop the process. 

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Sarah Binder, a political science professor at George Washington University and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, noted that "committee rules can't enforce themselves." 

"Were a Democrat to raise a point of order in committee against proceeding, GOP majority could easily vote down the objection," she said on Twitter, noting that any attempt to enforce this rule would be quashed by Republicans who hold the majority. 

Merriam-Webster dictionary updates 'sexual preference' entry after Amy Coney Barrett hearing

  Merriam-Webster dictionary updates 'sexual preference' entry after Amy Coney Barrett hearing Merriam-Webster added the word "offensive" to its usage guidance of "preference" and "sexual preference" when referring to sexual orientation.During the hearing Tuesday, Barrett was asked whether she agrees with the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s criticism of the same-sex marriage ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges – the landmark case which legalized gay marriage in the United States and which advocates worry Barrett would not support if confirmed to the nation's highest court.

A spokeswoman for the GOP-led panel pointed to a Senate rule that would allow the committee to move forward and cited seven times the panel had curbed the quorum rules since 2006. 

Democrats had been teasing the possibility they might boycott Barrett's hearings for days. While liberals have harshly criticized the process and Barrett's appointment in the midst of Americans voting in a presidential election, Democrats have acknowledged they don't have the power to halt her confirmation. 

Only two Republicans, Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, have voiced opposition to filling the vacancy on the court left by Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death before the election. Two other Republicans would have to join with Democrats in order to halt what appears to be Barrett's inevitable confirmation to the Supreme Court. 

While Democrats cannot stop her nomination, they have employed a host of procedural maneuvers to attempt to slow it down.

The vote Thursday follows four days of hearings last week, where senators peppered Barrett with questions for hours about a host of issues that could come before the high court, including the Affordable Care Act, abortion, voting rights and climate change.

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Barrett dodged answering many inquiries that dealt with contentious issues, frustrating Democrats who were eager to derail her confirmation, while vowing to keep an open mind on any issue that comes before her on the court.  

Since Ginsburg died in September, both sides have fought over how to go about replacing her on the court. Republicans have sought to confirm a new justice by Election Day in an effort to add one more conservative justice to the court before a contentious election. Democrats, hoping Joe Biden defeats Trump and they regain control of the Senate, have said the outcome of the election should determine who gets to choose a new Supreme Court justice. 

If Barrett is confirmed, there would be a 6-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Republicans on Senate panel to vote on Amy Coney Barrett's Supreme Court nomination as Democrats boycott hearing

Fact check: There is no Sen. Rob Donaldson, so posts of his speech about Barrett are fake .
A post on new Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett originated as a hypothetical. It took off, with many people assuming it was from a real senator.Several Facebook posts shared in the wake of those hearings include a long comment appearing to be a transcript of a speech made by a Sen. Rob Donaldson before the committee.

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