Senate could confirm Barrett before ACA Supreme Court arguments

The Senate is moving quickly on Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation process, paving the way for her confirmation before the Supreme Court hears arguments in a case that could determine the fate of the Affordable Care Act.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he intends to start Barrett’s confirmation hearings on Oct. 12 and hold a committee vote before the week of Oct. 26. The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on California v. Texas on Nov. 10, and Barrett could vote in the case if she is confirmed by the arguments.

“Hopefully we’ll come to the floor around the 26th, and that will be up to (Senate Majority Leader) Mitch McConnell,” Graham said on Fox News on Sunday.

Graham is embroiled in a competitive re-election race. A CBS News/YouGov poll of likely voters released Sunday showed Graham in a virtual tie with his Democratic challenger Jamie Harrison.

McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a written statement on Saturday that Barrett will receive a floor vote “in the weeks ahead,” but did not specify whether the floor vote would be held before Election Day.

If Barrett is not confirmed by Nov. 10, there’s a chance the Supreme Court could tie in a 4-4 decision on California v. Texas, a case that challenges the legality of the individual mandate since Congress zeroed it out in 2017. If the case is returned to lower courts, a final decision could be delayed months or years as the case makes its way back through the court system after lower courts do a severability analysis on the landmark healthcare law.

Barrett in past writings has criticized a decision that upheld tenets of the ACA, though some legal scholars say the legal challenge brought by Republican attorneys general and supported by the Trump administration may not be strong enough to garner support from the entire bloc of conservative justices.

After Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said he would support holding a vote on President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Republicans believe they have the votes to confirm Barrett without Democratic support. Barrett was confirmed to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals by the Senate in 2017 on a 55-43 vote, though her Supreme Court nomination process will be more politicized.


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