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Blumenthal urges Barrett to recuse from cases involving election

Blumenthal urges Barrett to recuse from cases involving election
© Greg Nash

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) on Monday urged Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett to recuse herself from any case involving the election that comes before the Supreme Court, as Democrats prepare to push her for such a commitment as part of her confirmation hearings.

Blumenthal, as part of his opening statement, warned that if Barrett did not recuse herself it would have negative consequences for both the Supreme Court and her own personal reputation as a judge.

"Your participation, let me be very blunt, in any case involving Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump announces new tranche of endorsements DeSantis, Pence tied in 2024 Republican poll Lawmakers demand changes after National Guard troops at Capitol sickened from tainted food MORE's election would immediately do explosive, enduring harm to the court's legitimacy and to your own credibility. You must recuse yourself," Blumenthal told Barrett.

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"The American people are afraid and they're angry, and for good reason. It's a break the glass moment," he added.

Because senators on the Judiciary Committee were only giving their opening statements on Monday, Barrett did not respond to Blumenthal's remarks. But Trump fired back at Blumenthal in a tweet, saying it was "crazy" for the Democratic senator to "lecture." Blumenthal has previously apologized for misrepresenting his military service, saying he should have said he served "during" Vietnam and not "in" Vietnam.

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"Crazy to watch Senator Blumenthal of Connecticut lecture all on morals & ethics when for 25 years he said he was a Great War Hero in Vietnam, and he was never even there. He lied & cheated right up until the day he got caught. Thank you to those in military who turned him in!" Trump tweeted.

Democrats have vowed to ask Barrett publicly during the two-day questioning session to commit to recusing herself, if she is confirmed to the Supreme Court, from any cases involving the outcome of the November election.

Driving Democratic concerns are Trump's public comments that he wanted Barrett on the bench in case the outcome of the election ends up at the country's highest court. If confirmed, Barrett would become the third judge appointed to the high court by Trump, following Neil GorsuchNeil GorsuchJustices raise bar for noncitizens to challenge removal from US after conviction Supreme Court faces landmark challenge on voting rights Kavanaugh dismays conservatives by dodging pro-Trump election lawsuits MORE and Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughJustices hear sparring over scope of safeguards for minority voters Supreme Court faces landmark challenge on voting rights Will 'Cover-up Cuomo' be marching to 'Jail to the Chief'? MORE.

"I think this [election] will end up in the Supreme Court, and I think it's very important that we have nine justices," Trump told reporters late last month.

Sen. Chris CoonsChris Andrew CoonsThe eight Democrats who voted 'no' on minimum wage Justice Democrats call moderates' votes against minimum wage hike 'unconscionable' Senate rejects Sanders minimum wage hike MORE (D-Del.), another member of the committee, said that he asked Barrett about recusing herself from election-related cases during their phone call last week but that she did not commit to doing so. 

"She made no commitment to recusal. She went through what the factors are for recusal, and said ... essentially that it would depend on the circumstances for any judge to make any recusal decision. And she wouldn't make some commitment to that ahead of the time that it might be in front of her," he added.

Barrett provided some details about when she would automatically recuse herself as part of her Judiciary Committee questionnaire that was released late last month. She did not list cases related to the election as an area where she would automatically recuse herself.

According to the document, Barrett said she would recuse herself from cases involving her husband or her sister, both attorneys; cases involving Notre Dame University, where she was a law professor; or matters that she participated in while serving as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit.