Despite a total Democratic boycott of the proceedings, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted on Thursday to approve Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The move sets up a vote to confirm Barrett in the full Senate, which is slated to happen within the week—ensuring that President Donald Trump and the Senate GOP will get a third justice on the high court during his presidency.
That Republicans have closed in on putting Barrett on the court barely a month after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg opened this seat—and less than two weeks before the election—is a testament to the party’s single-minded will to shape the federal judiciary by any means necessary.
But the Judiciary chair, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), gave a speech before the vote that sounded more like a bitter lament of the current state of the Senate than a celebration of their achievement. With the 10 Democratic senators on the committee absent from the room and boycotting the vote—saying they would not legitimize a “sham process”—Graham responded, “we’re not going to allow them to take over the committee. They made a choice not to participate.”
Graham then blamed Democrats for the broken state of the Senate’s norms around judicial confirmations and rules. He said when Democrats were last in the Senate majority, they took the so-called “nuclear option” of eliminating the 60-vote threshold for lower court nominees, which Senate Republicans then used as justification to eliminate that same threshold for Supreme Court nominees during the confirmation of Justice Neil Gorsuch in 2017.
“They started this,” said Graham. “Not me.”
Even Graham’s perfunctory praise of Barrett was laced with parting shots at liberals, who the judge’s supporters accused of trafficking in personal attacks on her family and her Catholic faith during the process. No Democratic senator went after Barrett personally during the proceedings, something Graham seemed to acknowledge. “My Democratic colleagues did not go too far, in my opinion,” he said. Although he still found time to decry what he framed as Barrett’s unfair treatment.