If everything weren’t so dramatic, it would be ironic: Of all things, a victory celebration could go down in history as the cause of a major crisis in the Republican Party. A week ago, US President Donald Trump and his closest circle, especially many Republican senators, gathered in the White House rose garden to celebrate the nomination of Conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. The military band played patriotic songs like “Hail to the Chief,” the atmosphere was festive and exuberant – for it had become clear in the preceding days that the Republicans had the majority for Barrett’s confirmation.
Many of the more than 150 guests hugged, shook hands, hardly anyone wore a mask, although the seats were very tight. It was celebrated that Barrett, the Senate agrees, would increase the Republican majority in the Supreme Court from five to four to six to three for the November 3 election. The 48-year-old is said to be the successor to liberal icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died the week before.
But after the celebration, now known as a ‘superspreading event’, in addition to President Trump, who has been in the hospital since Friday night, and First Lady Melania, at least three Republican senators have now tested positive for the coronavirus: Mike Lee (Utah), Thom Tillis (North Carolina) and Ron Johnson (Wisconsin). Lee and Tillis, who attended the ceremony, are also members of the judicial committee. Johnson said he was later infected in Washington.
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To vote on Barrett’s appeal, the judicial committee must meet first, followed by the entire senate. The Republicans only have a small majority with 53 out of 100 votes. So if the three senators fall seriously ill, this majority is at risk. Two moderate Republican senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, have made it clear before the election that they are against Barrett’s approval.
In response to the infections, Mitch McConnell, the leader of the Senate Republican majority, suspended all plenary sessions for the next two weeks to prevent the virus from spreading further in the Senate. But power tactician McConnell, who is apparently willing to go ahead with the trial at all costs, has decided that the judicial committee should begin Barrett’s hearing on Oct. 12, as scheduled. The vote in the Senate plenary is scheduled for October 26, just a week before the presidential and congressional elections.
Barrett is said to support a group that takes extreme anti-abortion stances
The Democrats, already demanding that the winner of the presidential election decide who should fill the influential office, are outraged. Members of the judicial committee argue that the continuation of the activities endangers the health of those involved. Despite all that is known so far, their concerns are justified.
According to the New York Times, McConnell already has plans in case more Republican senators should be quarantined or Tillis, Lee or Johnson fall ill. It is envisaged to hold the vote of the judicial committee in the main plenary room. There, infected senators could be placed in the gallery to maintain the necessary distance. Republican committee chairman Lindsey Graham suggested that senators could also participate in the meetings via video conference. In contrast to the democratically-run House of Representatives, which changed its rules in the corona crisis so that absent MPs can also vote, senators must be physically present to cast a vote.
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With Barrett, who, like all judges, would be elected for life, the Conservatives would gain a dominant majority in the Supreme Court – a security guarantee in case Trump loses the election and Democrats a majority after November alongside the House of Representatives. in the Senate. The Supreme Court repeatedly negotiates issues of enormous socio-political importance, such as immigration, health care or the right to abortion. Democrats warn, among other things, that Barrett would likely vote for President Barack Obama’s abolition of health care reform. A Guardian report also revealed that Garrett publicly supported, at least in 2006, a group that advocated extreme anti-abortion views.
The St. Joseph County Right to Life group of South Bend, Indiana, argues that life begins with fertilization, not embryo implantation or fetal viability. In addition, the activists are of the view that physicians who perform abortions should be prosecuted and that the disposal of frozen or unused embryos resulting from in vitro fertilization should be a criminal offense. Barrett had then signed an ad from the group.