Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett looks over to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) as they meet on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on September 29, 2020. (Photo: Susan Walsh/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

'Willing to Put Lives at Risk to Fill RBG's Seat': Despite Covid-19 Outbreak, McConnell Says 'Full Steam Ahead' for Confirmation

"Scheduling a hearing for 10 days from now is reckless and stupid," said one critic.

Jake Johnson

Hours after President Donald Trump tested positive for the coronavirus and shortly before Sen. Mike Lee announced his Covid-19 diagnosis, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made clear Friday that a potentially large outbreak in the White House and on Capitol Hill will not stop him from plowing ahead with his attempt to get right-wing Judge Amy Coney Barrett confirmed to the Supreme Court.

"Just finished a great phone call with POTUS," tweeted the Kentucky Republican. "He's in good spirits and we talked business—especially how impressed senators are with the qualifications of Judge Barrett. Full steam ahead with the fair, thorough, timely process that the nominee, the court, and the country deserve."

"McConnell declaring 'full steam ahead' without knowing the scope of the risk to those involved, including the nominee herself, is not just reckless and heartless, it has a slight undertone of panic."
—Adam Jentleson, Democracy Forward

Adam Jentleson, public affairs director at Democracy Forward and a former Senate staffer, said McConnell's comments show he is "literally willing to put lives at risk to fill RBG's seat" ahead of the November election, which is just a month away.

"McConnell declaring 'full steam ahead' without knowing the scope of the risk to those involved, including the nominee herself, is not just reckless and heartless, it has a slight undertone of panic," Jentleson added. "He is rushing to assert that everything is fine without knowing whether it is."

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, echoed McConnell in a CNN interview Friday morning after speaking to the president, who is reportedly experiencing "mild" coronavirus symptoms.

"First thing he asked me about was the hearing," Graham said. "He asked me about the hearings, I said, 'We're on track, we're in a good spot. She's going to get confirmed.' He was in a good mood, very focused on getting Amy Barrett through the Senate."

After Graham reaffirmed his commitment to beginning Barrett's Judiciary Committee hearings on October 12, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)—the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee—said in a statement that Senate Republicans' rush to start the confirmation process in just ten days "when we do not know the full extent of potential exposure stemming from the president's infection" risks turning an "already illegitimate process" into "a dangerous one."

On Friday, as Common Dreams reported, Barrett tested negative for the coronavirus three days after meeting with Lee—a member of the Judiciary Committee—at the U.S. Capitol. The two met indoors and neither wore face coverings nor adhered to social distancing guidelines.

"The unfortunate news about the infection of our colleague Senator Mike Lee makes even more clear that health and safety must guide the schedule for all Senate activities, including hearings," Schumer and Feinstein said. "There is bipartisan agreement that a virtual confirmation hearing for a lifetime appointment to the federal bench is not an acceptable substitute."

"It's critical that Chairman Graham put the health of senators, the nominee, and staff first—and ensure a full and fair hearing that is not rushed, not truncated, and not virtual," added the Democratic senators, who are facing pressure from progressive advocacy groups to do everything in their power to slow or stop Barrett's confirmation, which could imperil reproductive rights and healthcare coverage for millions.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Please select a donation method:

Wyden Warns Millions of Poor Families Could Be 'Denied' Child Tax Credit Unless IRS Acts

Without urgent fixes to a shoddy online application portal, Wyden said, many of "America's most vulnerable communities" will not receive the expanded monthly benefit.

Jake Johnson ·

In Pre-Sentencing Letter, Drone Whistleblower Daniel Hale Says Crisis of Conscience Motivated Leak

"I came to believe that the policy of drone assassination was being used to mislead the public that it keeps us safe... I began to speak out, believing my participation in the drone program to have been deeply wrong."

Brett Wilkins ·

Landslides in India Kill 100+ as Monsoon Rains Pummel Nation

"We have been talking about climate change and it is happening," said one of the country's top environmental officials.

Kenny Stancil ·

150 Voting Rights Groups Warn Biden Against Attempting to 'Out-Organize Voter Suppression'

"Every American deserves and should be able to rely on a baseline level of voting access... Only passage of both the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act can make this aspiration a reality."

Julia Conley ·

'A Day of Shame': Australia Lobbying Thwarts Push to List Great Barrier Reef as Endangered

Greenpeace Australia called Friday's World Heritage Committee vote "a victory for one of the most cynical lobbying efforts in recent history."

Jake Johnson ·