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Amy Coney Barrett's Supreme Court confirmation hearings: Highlights from Day 1

The Senate Judiciary Committee hearings will last through Thursday.
Image: Judge Amy Coney Barrett will attend Supreme Court confirmation hearings before the Senate on Monday and Tuesday.
Judge Amy Coney Barrett will attend Supreme Court confirmation hearings before the Senate on Monday and Tuesday.Chelsea Stahl / NBC News

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:

Hirono, Klobuchar wear themed masks for hearing

Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, wears a mask decorated with images of late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.Shawn Thew / Pool via Getty Images
Sen. Amy Klobuchar wears a pin of late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at a confirmation hearing for Judge Amy Coney Barrett.Kevin Dietsch / Pool via Reuters

Capitol police arrest 21 outside Senate building

U.S. Capitol Police say they arrested 21 demonstrators outside the Dirksen Senate Office Building, where Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation hearings are taking place, on Monday morning.

Police spokesperson Eva Malecki said those arrested were charged with "crowding, obstructing or incommoding" and one person was charged with "unlawful conduct."

Trump rants about health care after Democrats focus on ACA

Hearing in recess until 12:20 p.m. ET

Graham announced that the hearing has recessed until 12:20 p.m. ET, at which point they will return to senators' opening statements.

Tillis delivers opening statement remotely after testing positive for the coronavirus

Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., delivered his opening statement remotely because, like fellow GOP Sen. Mike Lee, who is attending the hearing in person, he also recently tested for Covid-19. 

The GOP senator, who is facing a tough re-election race, defended Barrett's record and echoed the argument made by his fellow Republicans that Democrats want the judiciary to uphold the policies that can't pass in Congress.

"She's not a legislator. That's our job," he said. "However, when the minority can't get their bad policies passed in Congress, they turn to the courts to demand that judges interpret the law, not as written, but as they prefer." 

Protesters clash with Barrett supporters outside Supreme Court

Supporters of Judge Amy Coney Barrett attempt to drown out pro-choice supporters outside the Supreme Court on Oct. 12, 2020.Samuel Corum / Getty Images

Blumenthal says Barrett 'must recuse' herself from any election-related disputes

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said that Barrett should recuse herself if any election-related case comes before the Supreme Court after the upcoming election, assuming she's confirmed by then. 

"You must recuse yourself," he said. "It's a break-the-glass moment."

Trump has suggested that if he loses the election, the results might need to be challenged in court, potentially the Supreme Court, because of mass mail-in ballot programs in some states. 

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., speaks during the confirmation hearing for Judge Amy Coney Barrett on Oct. 12, 2020.Shawn Thew / Pool via Getty Images

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.