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Democrats warn Supreme Court confirmation would endanger senators' health, call for delay

Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee are warning Chairman Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamPortman on Trump's dominance of GOP: Republican Party's policies are 'even more popular' Overnight Defense: Biden sends message with Syria airstrike | US intel points to Saudi crown prince in Khashoggi killing | Pentagon launches civilian-led sexual assault commission Graham: Trump will 'be helpful' to all Senate GOP incumbents MORE (R-S.C.) that he is putting his colleagues’ health in jeopardy by moving ahead with Supreme Court confirmation hearings, which are scheduled to start Oct. 12.

All ten Democrats on the Senate Judiciary panel are calling on Graham to delay confirmation proceedings for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney BarrettAmy Coney BarrettThe Jan. 6 case for ending the Senate filibuster Laurence Tribe: Justice Thomas is out of order on 2020 election McConnell backs Garland for attorney general MORE after two Republicans on the committee, Sens. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeCPAC, all-in for Trump, is not what it used to be OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Key vote for Haaland's confirmation | Update on oil and gas leasing | SEC update on climate-related risk disclosure requirements Haaland on drilling lease moratorium: 'It's not going to be a permanent thing' MORE (R-Utah) and Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisMcConnell backs Garland for attorney general GOP senators demand probe into Cuomo's handling of nursing home deaths CNN anchor confronts GOP chairman over senator's vote to convict Trump MORE (R-N.C.), tested positive for COVID-19.

Other Republican members of the committee were present at a White House Rose Garden event on Saturday, Sept. 26, when President TrumpDonald TrumpSacha Baron Cohen calls out 'danger of lies, hate and conspiracies' in Golden Globes speech Sorkin uses Abbie Hoffman quote to condemn Capitol violence: Democracy is 'something you do' Ex-Trump aide Pierson planning run for Congress MORE announced Barrett's nomination. 

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“To proceed at this juncture with a hearing to consider Judge Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court threatens the health and safety of all those who are called upon to do the work of this body,” Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinProgressive support builds for expanding lower courts Menendez reintroduces corporate diversity bill What exactly are uber-woke educators teaching our kids? MORE (Calif.), the top-ranking Democrat on Judiciary, and nine other Democrats, wrote in a letter to Graham Saturday.

The senators noted that “two members of this committee have already contracted COVID-19” and several other senators were “in close proximity” to them in recent days.

“As you aware, the CDC has advised that individuals ‘[s]tay home for 14 days after last contact with a person who has COVID-19,’ even if those individuals ‘test negative for COVID-19 or feel healthy,’” the Democrats wrote.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump shows he holds stranglehold on GOP, media in CPAC barnburner Trump rules out starting a new party: 'Fake news' Sunday shows - Trump's reemergence, COVID-19 vaccines and variants dominate MORE (R-Ky.) announced earlier on Saturday that while he will postpone the Senate returning to Washington until Oct. 19, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s confirmation hearings will proceed as scheduled.

“The Senate’s floor schedule will not interrupt the thorough, fair, and historically supported confirmation process previously laid out by Chairman Graham,” McConnell said.

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The GOP leader asserted that the Judiciary Committee has “operated flawlessly through a hybrid method” during which some senators have appeared in person at hearings while others have participated by video link-up.

“The committee has utilized this format successfully for many months while protecting the health and safety of all involved,” McConnell said in a statement.

“Certainly all Republican members of the committee will participate in these important hearings.”

Democrats on the Judiciary Committee complained to Graham on Saturday that “holding a remote hearing for a Supreme Court nomination is not an adequate substitute.”

“As Republican members of this committee have recognized, questioning nominees by video is ineffective and ignores the gravity of our constitutional duty to provide advice and consent on lifetime appointments, particularly those to the nation’s highest court,” they wrote.

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The Judiciary Committee’s rules allow for proxy voting, which means that even if Lee and Tillis are still contagious or not feeling well when the committee convenes to report Barrett’s nomination to the floor, colleagues can cast proxy votes on their behalf.

The panel’s rules state: “When a recorded vote is taken in the committee on any bill, resolution, amendment, or any other question, a quorum being present, members who are unable to attend the meeting may submit votes by proxy, in writing or by telephone, or through personal instructions.”

Senate Democrats have called on Graham and other Republicans to delay the confirmation process since the evening of Sept. 18, when late Justice Ruth Bader GinsburgRuth Bader GinsburgKavanaugh dismays conservatives by dodging pro-Trump election lawsuits McConnell backs Garland for attorney general A powerful tool to take on the Supreme Court — if Democrats use it right MORE’s death was announced.

Democrats led by Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerThe bizarre back story of the filibuster Hillicon Valley: Biden signs order on chips | Hearing on media misinformation | Facebook's deal with Australia | CIA nominee on SolarWinds House Rules release new text of COVID-19 relief bill MORE (D-N.Y.) have argued forcefully since that moment that the winner of the Nov. 3 presidential election should pick Ginsburg’s successor. Political handicappers rate Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden offers support to union organizing efforts Senate Democrats nix 'Plan B' on minimum wage hike Kavanaugh dismays conservatives by dodging pro-Trump election lawsuits MORE, the Democratic nominee, as the likely winner.