Democrats oppose Judge Barrett ideologically, but their opposition has little to do with the nominee herself. With more than 50 million votes already cast, Democrats have insisted the winner of the election should be allowed to fill the seat. They have accused Republicans of rank hypocrisy for rushing to fill it despite prior assurances by several senior Republicans that they will not do so if a vacancy opened in an election year and despite Republicans’ insistence in 2016 that voters be given a say in who fills the seat.
Ms. Collins and Ms. Murkowski, two moderates who have frequently bucked their party, have shared those concerns, warning that to fill the seat now will erode the legitimacy of the court and the Senate.
At 48, Judge Barrett would be the youngest justice on the bench, poised to put an imprint on the law for decades to come. An appeals court judge in Chicago and a Notre Dame law professor, she has been presented as an heir to former Justice Antonin Scalia, a towering figure of the court’s conservative wing for decades. Judge Barrett clerked for Justice Scalia and shares his strict judicial philosophy.
In her confirmation hearings this month, Judge Barrett repeatedly described herself as a true independent with “no agenda.” Neither party in the Senate, though, appears to believe she will be anything but a reliably conservative vote based on her academic writing and appeals court rulings. If that bears out, Judge Barrett would be the ideological opposite of her predecessor, Justice Ginsburg, who was the leader of the court’s now-diminished liberal wing.
Democrats have used that prospect to fire up their liberal base ahead of Election Day. Mr. Trump has promised to appoint justices who would chip away at or overturn abortion rights enshrined in Roe v. Wade, and Democrats have spent weeks warning that Judge Barrett would do just that. They also say she would rule against the Affordable Care Act when the court hears a challenge to Democrats’ signature health care law just a week after the election.
Sunday’s anticipated parliamentary tactics from Democrats were nothing new. For weeks now, they have deployed the few tools at the minority party’s disposal to try to highlight their case, including boycotting a vote on the nomination in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Friday, another first.
But inside the chamber, the outcome has not been in doubt. Republicans, compelled by the chance of installing a third Trump-nominated justice, had already lined up 51 of their members in support of confirmation. Then on Saturday, Ms. Murkowski said she would be a 52nd. Despite her opposition to moving forward on Sunday, Ms. Murkowski had already conceded that she had lost the procedural argument and said she would vote on Monday to elevate Judge Barrett.