The Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday began its first day of confirmation hearings for Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee.
The hearings will last through Thursday.
Barrett's confirmation would cement conservative control of the nation's highest court, giving them a 6-3 advantage. Democrats have acknowledged there's little they can do to prevent her ascent, which Republicans are rushing to push through before the election, but they still plan to grill Barrett on several key issues, including abortion and Obamacare, as well as information that she initially failed to disclose in her Senate questionnaire.
This live coverage has ended. Read continuing coverage of Barret's second day of confirmation hearings here.
Read the latest updates below:
Hawley attacks those who might consider Barrett's faith an issue
Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., attacked Democrats in his opening remarks, claiming that some have implied that Barrett's Catholic faith would be an issue in her decisions if she's confirmed.
Hawley said it's "an attempt to bring back the days of the religious test."
"We all know that she and her husband have chosen to raise their family according to their Catholic beliefs and faithful fellowship with other Catholics," he said. "We all know that 65 million Americans are Catholics, and many many millions more are Christians of other persuasions. Are they to be told that they cannot serve in public office, that they are not welcome in the public sphere unless the members of this committee sign off on their religious beliefs? I, for one. do not want to live in such an America, and the Constitution of the United States flatly prohibits it."
Democrats on the panel have not raised Barrett's faith as an issue, focusing largely on their concerns she might vote to strike down the Affordable Care Act.
Graham says panel will take 30-minute lunch break
Graham advised there will be a 30-minute lunch break after Sens. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Thom Tillis, R-N.C., who is speaking virtually, conclude.
After lunch, seven senators remain to deliver opening statements. Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, is up first after the break.
ANALYSIS: Who wants philosopher-kings? 'Republic'ans
It's like Sen. Ted Cruz is trolling the republic — and "The Republic."
"Who would want philosopher kings?" he asked. He might be right that Americans don't want to vest the high court with tremendous power over daily life.
But the concept of a "philosopher-king" comes from Plato, the godfather of Western democracy, in "The Republic," arguably a key text in the philosophical underpinnings of the Constitution. Moreover, it is the text from which Cruz's party takes its name.
Biden says Democrats should focus on Obamacare, not religion
Joe Biden was asked on Monday if Democrats should consider Amy Coney Barrett’s faith during the Supreme Court confirmation hearings this week.
"No, her faith should not be considered," Biden said, later adding, "I don’t think there’s any question about her faith.”
Biden then pivoted to discussing the Affordable Care Act, which Barrett could vote to strike down if she is confirmed.
"We're already in the midst of a real fight here. Everyone knows in 28 days, 20 million Americans may lose their health care. This nominee said she wants to get rid of the Affordable Care Act. The president wants to get rid of the Affordable Care Act," Biden said. "Let's keep our eye on the ball. This is about whether or not in one, in less than one month Americans are going to lose their health insurance."
Klobuchar points to family Covid-19 infections in arguing against a vote on Barrett
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., expressed outrage that the Senate was considering a nominee critical of the Affordable Care Act in the middle of a pandemic and ahead of an election, calling it a "sham."
"It's personal to me because my husband got Covid early on. He ended up in the hospital for a week on oxygen, with severe pneumonia, and months after he got it, I find out the president knew it was airborne, but he didn't tell us," she said.
"We were cleaning on every surface in our house and my husband got it anyway," said Klobuchar, who added that her 92-year-old father contracted the disease at his assisted living facility. "I stood outside his window and a mask. And he looked so small and confused. He knew who our family was, but he didn't know what was going on. I thought it was going to be the last time that I saw him. He miraculously survived."
Democrats illustrate stories of Americans who benefit from Obamacare
Cruz participating in hearing remotely
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is participating in the hearing remotely because he was exposed to someone with Covid-19 recently.
Cruz said every senator agrees that pre-existing conditions should be covered by health insurance.
"There is complete unanimity on this," he said, responding to Democratic attacks that Barrett would vote to remove those protections by voting down Obamacare.
Whitehouse: Thousands of Rhode Islanders view Barrett as a 'judicial torpedo aimed at their essential protections'
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., said in his opening statement that he hopes Republicans consider that health care coverage is at stake in this confirmation process, as millions of people are relying on the Affordable Care Act during the coronavirus pandemic.
Whitehouse said that Rhode Islanders are "calling, writing, emailing, tweeting me by the thousands asking me to say 'no' to this nominee mostly because they see her as a judicial torpedo aimed at their essential protections."
"My constituents want you, my colleagues, members of the Republican Party, to stand up for once to Mitch McConnell and to the big donors who are driving this process, and for the sake of regular people, say 'stop,'" he said.
ANALYSIS: Trump sees a political loser
When President Donald Trump weighed in on the hearings via Twitter on Monday morning, he made clear he thinks Barrett’s confirmation is a political loser compared to the prospect of getting a stimulus deal.
“Personally, I would pull back, approve, and go for STIMULUS for the people!!!” he wrote.
Just last week, he said he was canceling stimulus talks before reversing his course at the behest of just about every Republican official who would like to see him re-elected.
If he thought the confirmation was helpful to him, he would surely want the hearing to get more attention than stimulus negotiations he tried to kill last week.
Trump seems particularly perturbed by the effect of Democratic senators, who have largely split their time between hammering him on a variety of things and showing pictures of constituents who rely on Obamacare for lifesaving health insurance coverage.
"The Republicans are giving the Democrats a great deal of time, which is not mandated, to make their self serving statements relative to our great new future Supreme Court Justice," he said.
Lee delivers opening statement without wearing a mask
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, delivered his opening statement without wearing a mask inside the hearing room despite testing positive for Covid-19 on Oct. 1.
He decided to attend the hearing in person Monday after he said his doctor told him it would be safe to do so.
"I’ve gotten the sign-off from the Office of the Attending Physician, I’ve gone through the appropriate number of days ... and I’m no longer contagious," Lee said in an interview with the conservative radio show host Hugh Hewitt ahead of the hearing Monday.