Republicans had no choice but to allow the closed session, since all it takes is one senator to offer to move into closed session and another to second it. About 20 minutes later, the Senate quickly reconvened in public, illustrating that the Democrats’ move was meant to be a delay tactic as they protest the Republicans’ determination to confirm a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court so close to an election, with tens of millions of Americans already having voted.
“I believe the Senate majority is on the precipice of making a colossal and historic mistake,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said as he moved to close the Senate.
Referring to the Senate and the Supreme Court, Schumer said the “damage to Americans’ faith in these institutions could be lasting, so before we go any further, we should shut off the cameras, close the Senate and talk face-to-face about what this might mean for the country.”
Shortly afterward, McConnell formally set up a pair of votes to confirm Barrett, currently a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, as President Trump’s third pick to the Supreme Court. The significant judicial victory for Republicans will come just over a week before the Nov. 3 elections, in which the GOP is struggling to hang onto control of both the White House and the Senate.
But Democrats are expected to engage in a number of moves meant to delay — as they have all week — McConnell from doing so to protest Barrett and what they described as a rushed confirmation process. Democrats insist that the winner of the presidential election next month should fill the vacancy created by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Sept. 18.
Democratic senators also boycotted Barrett’s vote in the Judiciary Committee on Thursday, choosing instead to hold a news conference on the steps of the Capitol and giving Barrett a unanimous committee vote, yet one with an asterisk.
On the floor, Schumer has pushed for a number of votes meant to illustrate how Republicans have upended confirmation procedures. Schumer pushed for a floor vote Thursday that argued that Barrett’s nomination shouldn’t be considered because, according to Democrats, it was reported in violation of Judiciary Committee rules. (Republicans say there was no such violation.)
Still, Barrett’s confirmation, which has produced a rancorous yet truncated fight in the Senate, is all but assured at this point. She has the support of nearly all GOP senators, and needs only a simple majority of the Senate to clear two key floor votes en route to becoming a justice.