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The Senate Judiciary Committee will kick off its four-day confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett today. Barrett and all 22 members of the committee will offer their opening statements during today’s proceedings, setting the stage for the fierce battle over her nomination to fill the seat vacated by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last month.
Republicans are racing to confirm Barrett before Election Day. Every Supreme Court nominee since 1975 has waited at least a month between being nominated and their confirmation hearings beginning; Barrett waited just 16 days. If the GOP timetable goes according to plan, she will be sworn in as the court’s ninth justice by the end of October.
In her opening statement, Barrett will pledge to interpret laws “as they are written,” outlining the originalist philosophy also held by her mentor, the late Justice Antonin Scalia. “Courts are not designed to solve every problem or right every wrong in our public life,” she will add. “The policy decisions and value judgments of government must be made by the political branches elected by and accountable to the people. The public should not expect courts to do so, and courts should not try.”
In their own statements, Democrats are expected to focus on health care and the potential for Barrett to join a conservative majority on the court in striking down the Affordable Care Act. Republicans, meanwhile, are likely to defend Barrett’s credentials: the American Bar Association announced last night that they had rated the judge as “well qualified” to sit on the Supreme Court.
President Trump’s doctor cleared him over the weekend to return to public events. “I am happy to report that in addition to the President meeting CDC criteria for the self discontinuation of isolation, this morning’s COVID PCR sample demonstrates, by currently recognized standards, he is no longer considered a transmission risk to others,” Dr. Sean Conley, the presidential physician, said in a Saturday memo. He did not specify whether Trump had begun to again test negative for the virus.
Still, the president quickly took to Twitter to celebrate the news, writing that he was now “immune” to the virus and “can’t give it” to others. The social media platform quickly flagged the tweet as containing “misleading and potentially harmful misinformation,” due to lingering questions about whether Trump is no longer contagious and whether immunity from Covid-19 can be developed at all.
Trump held his first event since contracting coronavirus on Saturday, addressing about 200 supporters from the White House balcony. The president will return to the campaign trail today with a rally in Florida; he has rallies scheduled every day this week through Thursday.
Former Vice President Joe Biden continues to boast a substantial polling lead over President Trump. A Washington Post/ABC poll released on Sunday showed Biden leading Trump by 12 percentage points among likely voters, 54 percent to 42 percent. Trump also received poor marks in the poll on his handling of coronavirus, with 41 percent of registered voters saying they approved of his response to the pandemic and 58 percent saying they disapproved.
A trio of state polls released by CBS News on Sunday showed Biden leading Trump in the key states of Michigan and Nevada (both by 52 percent to 46 percent), while the two candidates were tied in Iowa (49 percent to 49 percent).
The CBS survey also found Democratic candidates leading in the contested Senate races in Michigan and Iowa. President Trump’s coronavirus infection has sparked new worries among Republicans about their ability to keep the Senate majority in November. Those anxieties were exacerbated over the weekend by a series of stunning financial reports from Democratic Senate nominees,
Most notably, Jaime Harrison, the Democrat challenging Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), announced Sunday that he had raised a record $57 million in the past three months. It is the most money a Senate candidate has ever raised in a single quarter in American history.
Coronavirus cases are surging across the United States once again. 31 states reported an increase in new cases last week compared to the week before, while six states — Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, and West Virginia — saw record single-day increases in cases on Friday.
Infections are also rapidly increasing across the globe: Friday marked the worldwide record for a single-day increase in cases (350,766) and capped a three-day period in which more than 1 million new coronavirus cases, a previously-unreached milestone. In Europe, many countries are tightening restrictive measures in response to the uptick.
Even as coronavirus cases surge, lawmakers remain divided over a potential stimulus package to aid Americans struggling with the economic fallout of the pandemic. President Trump made a new offer over the weekend: a $1.8 trillion package, which would include $300 billion for state and local governments and $400 weekly enhanced unemployment benefits. The new proposal is an increase from his previous $1.6 trillion package, but still smaller than House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s $2.2 trillion bill.
Both parties were quick to reject the proposal, dimming any hopes of a stimulus deal being struck before the election: Pelosi described the package as “grossly inadequate” in a letter to House Democrats on Sunday, while Senate Republicans told the White House in a Saturday conference call that it was too big for them to accept. The most recent Senate GOP proposal was $300 billion.
In a report on Section 4 of the 25th Amendment in Friday’s newsletter, I failed to note that in either scenario for presidential removal laid out — whether triggered by a majority of Cabinet officers or of another body designated by Congress, such as the one newly proposed by Nancy Pelosi — the vice president must also join those individuals in voting for the president to be temporarily discharged from his duties.
“In either case, the VP is a necessary actor as well as transferee,” vice presidential expert Joel Goldstein noted in an email. My apologies for the omission and my thanks to Joel for pointing out that important detail.
All times Eastern.
President Donald Trump will speak at a campaign rally in Sanford, Florida, at 7 p.m.
Vice President Mike Pence will speak at a campaign event in Columbus, Ohio, at 12:30 p.m.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden will deliver remarks on the economy in Toldeo, Ohio, at 1:15 p.m. and attend a campaign event in Cincinnati, Ohio, at 5:45 p.m.
The House and Senate are not in session.
The Senate Judiciary Committee will begin its first of four days of hearings on the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to be a Supreme Court justice at 9 a.m. Each member of the panel will give an opening statement, followed by introductions of Barrett by Sens. Todd Young (R-IN) and Mike Braun (R-IN) and former Notre Dame Law School Dean Patricia O’Hara, followed by Barrett’s opening statement.
The Supreme Court will not hold oral arguments due to Columbus Day.
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