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Conservative groups launch grassroots effort to boost support for Barrett ahead of confirmation hearing

GOP continues to plan confirmation hearing
Republicans press forward with Supreme Court confirmation despite COVID cases 06:10

Washington — With confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett set to kick off before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday, conservative organizations are coming together for a mobilization effort designed to drum up support for Barrett and ramp up the pressure on senators to swiftly confirm President Trump's third nominee to the Supreme Court.

The campaign brings together activists and resources across a number of conservative groups including the Heritage Foundation, its sister organization Heritage Action for America, the Judicial Crisis Network and Americans for Prosperity, and begins with a pair of new ads that will start airing during Sunday's public affairs shows.

The two 30-second spots are part of a multi-million dollar, multi-phase mobilization campaign from the Judicial Crisis Network, a conservative judicial group that also was active in the confirmations of Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. The group expects to spend at least $10 million in the fight to confirm Barrett to the Supreme Court. With its new $1 million ad buy, Judicial Crisis Network will have spent $8.3 million thus far.

The first ad features Amanda Rauh-Bieri, who clerked for Barrett on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Rauh-Bieri states in the ad that she voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, but wanted to work for Barrett after watching her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2017, during which she faced questions about her Catholic faith.

An exchange with Senator Dianne Feinstein, the Judiciary Committee's top Democrat, became a flashpoint of Barrett's nomination process, as the California Democrat told Barrett "the dogma lives loudly within you and that's a concern."

The second ad from the Judicial Crisis Network features Laura Wolk, who is the first blind woman to clerk at the Supreme Court. Wolk credits Barrett, who worked as a professor at Notre Dame Law School, with taking care of the technology issues Wolk faced while she was a law student in South Bend, Indiana.

On Monday, activists from the groups are expected to gather outside of the Senate office buildings, where committees meet and members have their personal offices, to form a "wall of unity" as Barrett arrives for the first day of her confirmation hearing. A press conference is also planned for Monday afternoon and is set to include members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Heritage Action is organizing a phone bank for its activists to call senators to urge them to vote to confirm Barrett, while Concerned Women for America is embarking on the second leg of a multi-state bus tour to boost support for her nomination.

Mr. Trump announced Barrett as his nominee to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court in late September, kicking off what is expected to be a bruising confirmation battle.

If Barrett's nomination is approved by the Senate, her appointment will expand the Supreme Court's conservative majority to 6-3, leading Democrats to sound the alarm about the future of the Affordable Care Act, a challenge to which is set to be heard by the justices November 10, and abortion rights.

Democrats have urged Mr. Trump and the GOP-controlled Senate not to proceed with Barrett's confirmation, given the close proximity to the November 3 presidential election. Citing the battle over a replacement to the late Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016, Democrats believe, as Republicans argued then, that the American people should have a voice in which president selects the next Supreme Court justice.

But Republicans say that the current situation differs from that of four years ago, when the GOP-controlled Senate declined to hold confirmation hearings for Judge Merrick Garland, who then-President Obama nominated to fill Scalia's seat. Now, unlike in 2016, the same party controls the Senate and the White House.

GOP lawmakers also argue Mr. Trump has a constitutional duty to fill a Supreme Court vacancy, and the president has reasoned that a nine-member court is crucial if the justices are tasked with deciding the outcome of the presidential election. 

Barrett's confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee will begin Monday and is expected to last four days. She will be introduced by Indiana's two Republican senators, Todd Young and Mike Braun, and Patricia O'Hara, the former dean of Notre Dame Law School. Barrett will also deliver her opening statement.

But adding to the controversy over Barrett's confirmation was the recent COVID-19 diagnoses of three Republican senators, Mike Lee of Utah, Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin. Lee and Tillis both sit on the Judiciary panel and attended the September 26 Rose Garden event where Mr. Trump announced Barrett as his nominee.

In the wake of the event, a number of attendees, including Mr. Trump, first lady Melania Trump, former White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, all tested positive for COVID-19.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell canceled legislative activity until October 19 due to the positive tests among the Senate's ranks, but Barrett's confirmation hearing is continuing as planned despite objections from Senate Democrats.

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