On the eve of Judge Amy Coney Barrett's first confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, the panel's Democrats on Sunday demanded the right-wing Supreme Court nominee release any additional information she has withheld from lawmakers after new reporting revealed that she failed to disclose a pair of talks to anti-abortion groups and other materials.
After CNN reported Friday that Barrett omitted from her initial Senate questionnaire two talks she gave to student anti-abortion organizations at Notre Dame University in 2013, the judge submitted to the Judiciary Committee a supplement (pdf) disclosing both a lecture and a seminar. Barrett also informed the committee that while serving as a law professor at the University of Notre Dame, she signed onto a 2013 paid advertisement criticizing Roe v. Wade.
Following Barrett's belated disclosures—which did not include the content of the talks—all ten Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee sent a letter (pdf) demanding to know what else the corporate-friendly judge is withholding as Republicans rush ahead with her confirmation process despite a coronavirus outbreak on Capitol Hill and widespread opposition to the nominee among legal experts and civil rights groups.
"It is troubling that Judge Barrett supplemented her [Senate Judiciary Questionnaire] to include these talks only after they were identified by the press," the lawmakers wrote. "These new omissions raise more questions about the reliability of Judge Barrett's SJQ and her candor before the Committee. These new omissions also raise serious concerns about Judge Barrett's rushed confirmation process and the hasty process of collecting materials responsive to the SJQ."
All 10 @JudiciaryDems wrote to DOJ again today about omissions from materials that Barrett submitted. “These new omissions raise more questions about the reliability of Judge Barrett's SJQ and her candor before the Committee.”
— The Leadership Conference (@civilrightsorg) October 12, 2020
In a statement on Sunday, Christopher Kang, chief counsel at advocacy group Demand Justice, said that Barrett's nomination—which is backed by tens of millions of dollars in spending from dark-money organizations—"should not move forward without a full accounting of her past speeches and links to these groups that she has clearly sought to downplay or hide."
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"Amy Coney Barrett needs to come clean about her ties to far-right organizations and produce more information on the speeches she gave about Roe v. Wade," said Kang. "By repeatedly failing to disclose relevant information to the Senate, she has forfeited the benefit of the doubt."
Barrett's first Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Monday, scheduled to begin at 9:00 am ET, is expected to be met with protests from outside advocacy groups as well as pushback from Senate Democrats, who are under pressure to do everything in their power to slow or prevent the right-wing judge's confirmation to the high court.
"If Senate leadership forces a nominee before the next Congress and president are installed, it would deprive the people of their voice and further destabilize a nation already gripped by crisis," said Ana Maria Archila, co-executive director of CPD Action, which is planning to join a march to the Hart Senate Office Building and demand entry into Barrett's hearing Monday morning.
"We're mobilizing all those who believe in freedom, equality, and justice to engage in direct action to put pressure on both key Senate Republicans as well as Democrats to ensure that this confirmation is delayed," said Archila.
Adopting one of the tactics proposed in a memo circulating on Capitol Hill, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Sunday that "Democrats will not supply the quorum" for the Senate Judiciary Committee's hearing on Thursday, when the panel is expected to begin voting to advance Barrett's nomination to the full Senate.
Schumer's move could complicate the voting process for the Republican-controlled Judiciary Committee, given that four GOP members have been forced to quarantine after testing positive for the coronavirus or coming into contact with someone who did. Under committee rules, nine members—including at least two from the minority party—must be present for a vote to take place.