WASHINGTON (AP) — A scant two weeks after her nomination, Judge Amy Coney Barrett is before a Senate committee that's bitterly split along partisan lines over whether the Supreme Court vacancy created by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death should be filled now or should await the winner of the Nov. 3 presidential election. The Senate Judiciary Committee's hearings are taking place on an accelerated timeline because President Donald Trump and Senate Republicans want her on the bench by Election Day. Adding to the swirl of politics around the nomination is the coronavirus pandemic and the role it might play. Barrett was introduced as the nominee at a Rose Garden ceremony linked to a cluster of virus cases, including those of Trump and his wife, Melania.
Viewers should expect to see the 48-year-old Barrett portrayed by Republicans as a principled jurist and person of faith in the mode of her mentor, conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, and someone who will decide cases based on the law, not her policy preferences. Democrats will spend a lot of time talking about the unseemly rush to fill Ginsburg's seat. But they also will label Barrett a results-oriented conservative whose ascension to the high court would entrench a conservative majority bent on undoing abortion rights, loosening gun restrictions and turning back the clock on environmental regulations and anti-discrimination laws.
Lawmakers know the public is watching, but as hearings get going and lawmakers seek to probe the nominee's views, they often slip into using legal jargon and refer to past Supreme Court cases in shorthand. It can sound as though they're talking in code. Expect senators to use these terms at Barrett's hearings, which started Monday: