Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett won a key vote by her performance this week in her confirmation hearings: from Utah Sen. Mitt Romney.
“After meeting with Judge Barrett and carefully reviewing her record and her testimony, I intend to vote in favor of her confirmation to the Supreme Court,” Romney said in a statement.
“She is impressive, and her distinguished legal and academic credentials make it clear that she is exceptionally well qualified to serve as our next Supreme Court justice,” he said. “I am confident that she will faithfully apply the law and our Constitution, impartially and regardless of policy preferences.”
Romney is a key reason why Barrett even had a confirmation hearing.
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 Republicans are quickly pushing Barrett now, as by-mail and early voting has started in Utah and many other states.
Romney’s earlier decision provided just enough support — 51 votes — to ensure a vote would be held on Barrett before the election. Still, he had said earlier that he would base his eventual vote on consideration of her qualifications, but says she has now earned his support.
Utah’s other senator, Mike Lee, is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee that held confirmation hearings on Barrett this week. Lee also pushed for Barrett’s nomination before President Donald Trump chose her.
Lee contracted COVID-19 shortly after attending Trump’s White House ceremony to announce Barrett’s nomination, as did Trump and many other attendees — although no conclusive proof shows that they contracted it at that event.
But in the first half-hour round of questions on Tuesday, he gave long monologues himself about his views on abortion, the Affordable Care Act and court packing — asking Barrett only a few quick questions as she talked for only 5 minutes and 15 seconds of Lee’s 31-minute round.
In a second round of hearings on Wednesday, Lee, a Latter-day Saint, asked Barrett, a Catholic, to talk give her legal views on religious freedom and the persecution that members of their churches have suffered.
Lee said during the hearing, “You, Judge Barrett, are someone in whom I have immense confidence, immense trust. And I look forward to voting and confirming you.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee is set to vote on Barrett’s nomination on Oct. 22, where it’s almost certain that the appointment will be advanced to the full Senate. Bloomberg reported Thursday that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he has the votes to confirm Barrett and plans to bring her nomination to the full Senate for a vote on Oct. 23. That would allow her to be seated prior to the Nov. 3 election.