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Opinion: Democrats know they will lose on Barrett, but are aiming for a bigger win

October 13, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

Elie Honig writes that at the Judge Amy Coney Barret's confirmation hearings, it quickly became clear that Democratic Senators knew they would be unable to block her nomination, and instead set their sights on a new tactic: motivating the voter base.

(CNN)Senate Democrats are losing the battle, but they're aiming to win the war.

We learned on day one of the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett that Senate Democrats have accepted reality.

Barrett will be confirmed, the Supreme Court will soon consist of six conservative justices and three liberals, and there's nothing Senate Democrats can do to stop it.

That's how determined Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham, and their Republican colleagues are to get Barrett confirmed.

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) case on November 10.

If Republicans can confirm and seat Barrett before then, she will likely participate in the decision, and her vote could be decisive.

Back in 2012, the ACA barely survived by a 5-4 vote in the Supreme Court.

Chief Justice John Roberts unexpectedly provided the decisive vote upholding the ACA, crossing over to join with the Court's four liberal justices.

Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, both reliable conservatives, seem likely to vote the same as their predecessors, to strike down the ACA (though both showed independent streaks this past term — Gorsuch on a LGBTQ case and both on the Trump tax returns case).

If confirmed, Barrett will take the seat of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who voted to uphold the ACA in 2012.

The Republican hope appears to be that Trump's selection of Barrett will energize their base and rally conservative voters.

If they can't stop Barrett's confirmation, they can at least make Republicans pay at the ballot box.

Democrats sounded that theme throughout day one of the hearings by focusing on the ACA.

By speaking about the ACA repeatedly not in legal terms but in practical terms — stressing the visceral fear felt by millions of Americans who could lose coverage rather than the statutory nuances — Democrats aimed their message at an audience beyond the Judiciary Committee chamber.

Senate Democrats understand they can't prevent Barrett from taking her next job with the Supreme Court.

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