Last day of Amy Coney Barrett Supreme Court hearings to feature debate, character witnesses – USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – The final day of Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination hearings to the Supreme Court won’t feature her. 

Instead, the Senate Judiciary Committee — the panel charged with vetting judicial nominees — will hear from a host of experts, character witnesses who are likely to praise Barrett and what is sure to be emotional testimony from Americans who could be impacted should the high court strike down controversial laws, such as those protecting abortion or the nation’s healthcare system. 

Before hearing from the witnesses, the committee is scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. ET to debate Barrett’s nomination — a process that might be contentious and could potentially include various procedural motions and that could lengthen the process. 

The Wednesday evening disclosure by CNN of additional talks Barrett gave at the University of Notre Dame, including one to an antiabortion group, prompted one Senate Democrat to call for the nomination to delayed because the talks were not reported in her Senate paperwork

“That is alone reason to delay that markup tomorrow,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., told reporters Wednesday evening, calling the new disclosures “absolutely dynamite.” 

Blumenthal noted, “we have no evidence that she is intentionally concealing or hiding” the talks. 

The hearing Thursday will follow two days of senators peppering Barrett with questions over a host of controversial issues — notably the Affordable Care Act, guns, abortion and voting rights. Barrett largely refused to weigh in on issues that could come before the high court, leaving Democrats pointing to her past rulings and writings and the conservative sway she could have on the court and the federal appeals judge striving to show her independence from Republicans and the White House. 

From Wednesday:Democrats concede Amy Coney Barrett likely to be confirmed but warn of ‘conservative judicial activism’

From Tuesday:Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett strives to show independence from White House, Republicans

After debating her nomination, the committee is set to hear from two panels. The first will feature two members of the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary, which evaluates the qualifications of every judicial nominee: Randall D. Noel of Butler Snow, LLP and Pamela J. Roberts of Bowman and Brooke LLP.

The second panel will include Democratic and Republican witnesses who are likely to speak on Barrett’s character or in opposition to her confirmation: 

  • Dr. Farhan Bhatti, CEO and medical director of Care Free Medical. Bhatti will discuss the Affordable Care Act
  • Retired Judge Thomas Griffith of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, who has praised Barrett.
  • Kristen Clarke, President and Executive Director, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Clarke will testify about voting and civil rights.
  • Professor Saikrishna Prakash of the University of Virginia School of Law, one of Barrett’s professional colleagues
  • Crystal Good, who fought in court for an abortion at age 16 and who will testify about abortion rights.
  • Amanda Rauh-Bieri, associate at Miller Canfield, and a former clerk for Barrett.
  • Stacy Staggs will testify about the consequences of overturning the Affordable Care Act.
  • Laura Wolk, an attorney and one of Barrett’s former law students.

All the witnesses, some of whom are appearing virtually, and senators will have five minutes to offer opening statements. Senators will have five minutes to question the witnesses during each panel. 

More:Six conservative justices? 10 ways the Supreme Court could change

Who is Amy Coney Barrett?: Talented judge, popular professor brings solid conservative credentials

After the committee hears from the witnesses, senators will hold Barrett’s nomination for one week, a common practice. The panel is expected to vote around Oct. 22, in a vote that will likely split along party lines, 12 Republicans and 10 Democrats. 

After the vote, the full Senate will take up her nomination. She will need at least a majority of the 100-member chamber to be confirmed to the high court, a feat she is expected to cross as Democrats have acknowledged they lack the votes to block her confirmation before Election Day.