Daines praises committee confirmation of Barrett; Tester still undecided

With Democrats in boycott, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimous confirmed Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett on Thursday, moving the high court one step closer to a 6-3 conservative majority.

Sen. Steve Daines, who has expressed support for Barrett’s confirmation, praised the 12-0 committee vote.

“Judge Amy Coney Barrett is one step closer to becoming Justice Amy Coney Barrett,” Daines said in a statement after the vote. “Judge Barrett has a brilliant legal mind and she will uphold our constitutional rights, including the Second Amendment, and won’t legislate from the bench.”

Democrats boycotted Thursday’s vote, calling it a sham and a power grab, saying it was improper to consider the nominee while voting was underway in the presidential election.

Most polls show President Donald Trump trailing Joe Biden, including several swing states that Trump handily won just four years ago. Republicans are eager to get Barrett seated before the election, despite having blocked former President Barack Obama’s court pick ahead of the 2016 election.

“She is a role model for Montanans and working moms across the country, and is someone Montanans would look up to on our highest court,” Daines said. “I look forward to casting my vote to confirm Judge Barrett to the Supreme Court.”

Images of people who’ve been helped by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) occupy the seats of Democratic senators boycotting a Senate Judiciary Committee business meeting on the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to be an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020 on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Caroline Brehman/Pool via Courthouse News)

Barrett, who is only 48, would help establish a conservative Supreme Court for decades to come. Daines has noted that if Barrett lives as long as recent Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, she’ll serve until 2060.

Legal experts have said that Barrett’s confirmation would bring the most pronounced ideological change to the court in more than three decades. The new court is set to begin hearings on voting rights, abortion and a range of other issues. It could also play a role in a contested presidential election.

Sen. Jon Tester has not said how he’ll vote when Barrett’s confirmation reaches the full Senate, which he said is likely early next week.

“What happens traditionally with all Supreme Court nominees is that you get a chance to visit with them,” Tester said Thursday morning. “We asked for a meeting with Amy Coney Barrett and we have not heard back yet. I do want to visit with her, and we’ll make a decision after that meeting takes place.”