Rules Matter In The Barrett Hearings

They could spell the difference between success and failure for Barrett.


The game is afoot Monday morning and the Democrats have already begun lying through their teeth at the Barrett confirmation hearings.

But with a Senate majority, Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can use the rules of the Senate to keep them in check.

Rules Of The Hearings

What are the most important rules in regards to the Barrett hearings? The Wall Street Journal lays out some of them.

“Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) has set aside four days for hearings. Each of the senators will have a chance to make opening statements on Monday, after which Judge Barrett will be introduced, sworn in, and given a chance to deliver her own opening statement. Tuesday and Wednesday are set aside for questions from senators, and on Thursday the committee will hear from an as-yet-unnamed slate of outside panelists.

There are provisions for a closed portion of the hearing during which sensitive issues such as those relating to a background check may be discussed.

“Committee rules setting out how the panel operates include the requirement that at least nine committee members, including at least two from the minority party, be present for transacting business.

They also require a majority to be physically in attendance at the time action is taken—in this case, voting on Judge Barrett’s nomination. In principle that could provide Democrats with an opportunity to slow the proceedings, but committee rules aren’t enforceable, and in the past chairmen have simply tabled a point of order objecting to a rules violation, experts on Senate procedure say.”

RELATED: Left Goes After SCOTUS Nominee Amy Coney Barrett’s Child With Down Syndrome

So you see, the number of senators present means a lot. Senate Rule XXVI states that no nomination “shall be reported from any committee unless a majority of the committee were physically present.”

Republicans Need To Be Present

No Republican gets a flyer on this one. Every one of them in the Senate must be present at key moments. But the virus has made that complicated. Two of them on Judiciary came down with COVID, Mike Lee, R-UT, and Thom Tillis, R-NC. They won’t attend on Monday. Nor will Ted Cruz, who was virus exposed to Lee.

“Every precaution needs to be taken because we don’t anticipate any Democratic support at all, either in committee or in the full Senate, and therefore, everybody needs to be in an all-hands-on-deck mindset,” Mitch McConnell said earlier this month on “The Hugh Hewitt Show.”

RELATED: Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court Nomination In Jeopardy As GOP Senators Test Positive

Democrats could try a filibuster to stall the confirmation. But, guess what?

Matt Glassman, of Georgetown University’s Government Affairs Institute, thinks Republicans would be willing to take the measures necessary to end that filibuster, “I don’t think any senator is going to hesitate to nuke that rule that the discharge resolution is debatable in executive session.”

He’s right. Harry Reid blithely used the nuclear option for the first time years ago. Now, the Democrats are likely regretting his hubris.

This piece was written by David Kamioner on October 12, 2020. It originally appeared in LifeZette and is used by permission.

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