The health emergency jumps to the center of the battle for the Supreme Court of the United States

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On the first day of hearings in the Senate, Democrats warn that Judge Barrett’s confirmation will leave millions of citizens without health coverage amid the pandemic

An exemplary mother of deep religious faith, according to the Republicans, and a jurist who should be valued for her professional merits. A threat to the health protection of the most vulnerable Americans in the midst of a pandemic, according to Democrats, and the instrument of the right to illegitimately maintain power regardless of what citizens decide. Somewhere between one extreme and the other, Amy Coney Barrett sat in a room of the Capitol on Monday, wearing a fuchsia dress, a black mask, immutable while senators from both parties converted the first day of the hearings of her confirmation as judge of the Court Supremo in a new display of the tension and polarization that mark the final stretch towards the United States elections.

That the outcome of the four days of hearings that began this Monday is nothing short of inevitable was made clear by Senator Lindsay Graham, chairman of the Upper House Judiciary Committee, in his initial speech. Graham has opened “the hearings to confirm” Judge Barrett, not to consider her confirmation. Republicans have 53 of the 100 seats in the Senate, enough except for a major surprise to reach the simple majority required to confirm Barrett. “This is probably not going to convince each other,” Graham added. “Republicans will vote yes, Democrats will vote no.”

Although the Republican senators, in their initial speeches, wanted to convey an image of normalcy, nothing was normal in the show, televised live for the entire country. Republicans have insisted on moving forward with the hearings despite a coronavirus outbreak in Washington that many experts link precisely to the massive reception that President Trump offered to Judge Barrett at the White House. The president tested positive, as did at least two Republican senators on this Judicial Committee, including Mike Lee, who despite his positive nine days ago decided to attend the hearings in person. The room where these are held has been arranged considering criteria of social distance, without an audience, with just a handful of reporters. “This very room today is a microcosm of Trump’s dangerous ineptitude in managing the health crisis,” said Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse.

Some senators have intervened by videoconference, such as Kamala Harris, Democratic vice presidential candidate, who has criticized the efforts of the Republicans to hold an event “with 50 people sitting in a closed room for hours despite a coronavirus outbreak among senators ”. “The decision to maintain this hearing is reckless,” Harris denounced, intervening from his office on the Capitol.

Nor is it normal, although the Republicans insisted that it was, to proceed with the replacement of a vacancy in the Supreme Court 22 days after the elections and when millions of people are already voting. In fact, four years ago, Republicans refused even to consider the Obama-nominated judge and blocked the process for 10 months, claiming that it was not appropriate to do so in an election year. The Supreme Court justices occupy their positions for life, once they are nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate, and both the presidency and the upper house are on the ballots that citizens of 40 states are already casting.

“None of this is normal. Speeding up a confirmation from a judge when people are already voting is not normal, ”said Democrat Cory Booker. “We are here because they want to accelerate this to have a judge that ensures that they repeal the Low Price Health Care Act,” he added, referring to the Obama Administration’s health reform, challenged by Republicans, on which the Supreme it must be pronounced just one week after the elections.

That has been the focus of the Democrats, who have exhibited one after another, in their initial interventions, photographs of neighbors from their respective states, to tell the real stories of citizens whose lives they have assured that they depend on the aforementioned legislation, which it would probably repeal a conservative majority in the Supreme Court reinforced by Justice Barrett. “Millions of Americans would lose health protection completely in the middle of a pandemic,” Senator Harris has warned. During the hearing, President Trump has insisted on Twitter that he has a “much better” public health plan than Obama’s. But so far it has not explained what it consists of.

At the end of the session, and before she submits to the senators’ questions in the next few days, Judge Barrett made an initial intervention rich in references to her family and her Catholic faith. She has hoped to be able to provide “new perspectives” in her capacity as the first mother of school-age children who sits in the highest court of the country. And despite the fact that in recent years the Supreme Court has become a true body of political action in the United States and that, according to the Democrats, it has been the true focus of the Republicans to ensure a conservative agenda that does not correspond to the demographic reality of the country, Judge Barrett has promised to interpret the laws “as they are written.” “Political decisions must be made by the political branches of power, elected by the people and accountable to them,” he concluded. “The public should not expect the courts to do so, and the courts should not try.”

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