Mitt Romney impressed after meeting Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, but doesn’t commit to vote for her

(Photo courtesy of Sen. Mitt Romney's office). Sen. Mitt Romney and Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett pose for photos before a meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020.

Sen. Mitt Romney praised Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett after he met with her on Wednesday, but did not say whether he is ready to vote to confirm her.

“I enjoyed meeting Judge Barrett, and we had an informative, wide-ranging discussion about her impressive background and her judicial philosophy,” Romney said.

“I look forward to her upcoming testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee,” he added, without a pledge yet to vote for her.

As they posed for pictures before the meeting, Romney told reporters that when he attended law school, he answered many questions from professors, such as Barrett who used to teach law at Notre Dame University.

“I’m looking forward to return the fire,” he said. “I’m sure we’ll have a very interesting and informative opportunity to speak with each other.”

Romney paved the way earlier this month to allow consideration of Barrett when he decided to stick with his party, and declined to join a couple other Republicans who said confirmation should wait until after the election. Romney’s decision provided just enough support to ensure a vote on Barrett before the election, but he said he will base his eventual vote on consideration of her qualifications.

Democrats have complained that Republicans four years ago blocked consideration of Democratic President Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, by saying his nomination came too close to the election but are pushing Barrett now, even as early voting has started in some states.

Barrett, who has served on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals since 2017, was nominated on Saturday by President Donald Trump to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court created by the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Utah’s other senator, Mike Lee, met with Barrett on Tuesday and showered her with praise. He is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee that will hold confirmation hearings on her, which are scheduled to begin on Oct. 12. Lee also earlier pushed for Barrett’s nomination.

“I was remarkably impressed by Judge Barrett. My meeting with her was fantastic,” Lee said Tuesday. “She is a judge, a legal scholar, a lawyer, and a jurist with outstanding credentials. We had a great conversation and I am very much looking forward to speaking with her more during her confirmation hearing.”

Barrett met with, or was scheduled to meet, about a third of all Senators on Monday and Tuesday.

Several Senate Democrats, including Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, have said they will not meet with Barrett because they are upset with her nomination so close to the election.

Lee and Romney have argued that voting on Barrett before the election follows both the Constitution and historical precedent, arguing that when a president’s party controls the Senate it usually has confirmed his election-year nominees to the high court. But when different parties control the White House and Senate, election-year nominees usually are rejected.

Lee has been unapologetic about that, saying the Senate is a political body and no one should be surprised that Republicans wield political power when they have it.