Wasting no time, the Senate is on track to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court by next Monday, charging toward a rare weekend session as Republicans push past procedural steps to install President Donald Trump's pick before Election Day.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he will begin the process as soon as the Senate Judiciary Committee wraps up its work Thursday. With a 53-47 Republican majority, and just two GOP senators opposed, Trump's nominee is on a glide path to confirmation that will seal a conservative hold on the court for years to come.
McConnell said Monday that Barrett demonstrated over several days of public hearings the "sheer intellectual horsepower that the American people deserve to have on the Supreme Court."
Without the votes to stop Barrett's ascent, Democrats have few options left. They are searching for two more GOP senators to break ranks and halt confirmation, but that seems unlikely. Never before has a court nominee been voted on so close to a presidential election.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer decried what he called the "farcical" process to "jam" through Trump's choice, even as the coronavirus outbreak sidelined GOP senators.
"The Republican majority is running the most hypocritical, most partisan and least legitimate process in the history of Supreme Court confirmations," he said during speech as the Senate opened.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is set to meet Thursday to vote on recommending Barrett's nomination to the full Senate.
By Friday, procedural votes are expected, continuing over the weekend as Republicans push through the steps for a final vote to confirm Barrett as soon as Monday.
The 48-year-old appellate court judge from Indiana delivered few specific answers during several days of public testimony as senators probed her previously outspoken views against abortion, the Affordable Care Act and other issues before the court. She declined to say whether she would recuse herself from cases involving the election between Trump and Democrat Joe Biden.
Trump has said he wants the judge seated in time to hear any potential disputes from the Nov. 3 election. He also has said he's looking for a judge who would rule against the Obama-era health care law, which is headed to the court in a case justices are expected to hear Nov. 10.
If confirmed, Barrett would be Trump's third justice on the court. She would fill the vacancy from the late Ruth Bader Ginsberg, the liberal icon, locking in a 6-3 conservative majority on the high court.