Tag: Republicans

Supreme Court: Democrats and Republicans seek hints for how Barrett will rule on health care law

For the second day of Barrett’s questioning in the Senate Judiciary Committee, the health care law was a dominant topic on both sides of the aisle thanks to the looming November case the Supreme Court will hear on a Republican effort to strike down the law.

Both Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the panel’s top Democrat, asked President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee about the legal doctrine of “severability,” or whether the entire law can stand if one part of it is deemed unconstitutional, during Barrett’s second day of questions before the committee on Wednesday.

It’s a concept that could play a key factor in the case from Republican attorneys general and the Trump administration that seeks to strike down the Affordable Care Act case next month. They argue the entire law, commonly known as Obamacare, should be struck down because the law’s individual coverage mandate is unconstitutional.

Barrett explained to Feinstein, a California Democrat, that severability was like a game of “Jenga.”

“If you picture severability being like a Jenga game, it’s kind of like, if you pull one out, can you pull it out while it all stands? If you pull two out, will it all stand?” Barrett asked. “Severability is designed to say well would Congress still want the statute to stand even with the provision gone?”

Graham, during his questioning of Barrett, seemed to suggest he thought that the Affordable Care Act could be saved because of severability, saying the doctrine’s “goal is to preserve the statute if that is possible.”

“From a conservative point of view, generally speaking, we want legislative bodies to make laws, not judges,” Graham said, before asking Barrett, “Would it be further true, if you can preserve a statue you try to, if possible?”

“That is true,” Barrett said.

“That’s the law folks,” Graham responded.

The challenge to President Barack Obama’s health care law from Republican state attorneys general and the Trump administration has become a central issue in this year’s election in part due to Barrett’s confirmation. Democrats have focused their arguments during Barrett’s confirmation hearings on the way the law has provided care for individuals.

But Senate Republicans, who back the lawsuit to kill the law, have backed away from that implication in the lead-up to Election Day. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is also up for reelection, said during his debate Monday that “no one believes” the Supreme Court will strike down the entire law.
Graham, who is facing a tough reelection fight this year, raised the severability argument but also launched into another attack on the health care law, “Obamacare is on the ballot.”
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The South Carolina Republican praised Barrett’s record, comparing her to Obama’s nominees Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, calling Barrett the first woman nominated to the high court who is “unashamedly pro-life.”

Just as they did during Tuesday’s lengthy questioning, Democrats sought to pin down Barrett on a number of topics she could hear in the future, including voting

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In a state known for ‘law and order,’ Texas Republicans struggle to make the message stick

But there are signs the message has fallen flat, even with some suburban Republican voters who say the efforts to mirror President Trump’s demonization of “Democratic-run cities” and social justice demonstrations needlessly stoke fear and exacerbate political divisiveness.

In the longtime Republican stronghold of Collin County, home to two of the nation’s most competitive state legislative contests, Republican candidates and supporters have spotlighted rising crime rates in neighboring Dallas, where homicides are hovering near a 10-year high. But lifelong Republican Jim Murry said he shakes his head — or shouts at his television screen — when he hears Abbott or Trump rail against “violent” protesters or accuse Democrats of wanting to decimate local police forces.

“To me, it’s all unfounded fear,” said Murry, 64, as he stood among his neighbors’ spacious homes and manicured lawns in west Plano, a Dallas suburb. The idea that Democrats “are going to ruin the suburbs is just ridiculous. Crime is not really an issue here.”

But in many parts of Plano, one of the epicenters of the statehouse fight, Trump lawn signs still outnumber those supporting Biden, especially in the most affluent neighborhoods, and some residents say Democrats are too soft on crime. One resident said several of his neighbors bought guns after racial justice protests erupted this summer. Another blamed Democratic leaders in Dallas for his 26-year-old son’s desire to move back to Plano because he no longer feels safe in the city.

Private GOP polling shows a vast majority of suburban Texas voters reject “defunding the police,” said Austin Chambers, president of the Republican State Leadership Committee — a message the GOP has successfully tied to Democratic candidates in some voters’ minds, even over those Democrats’ objections.

“If they go along these lines and defund the police, we will go back to the days of vigilantes, where we all wear sidearms,” said Plano resident Jack Lusk, 77, a longtime Republican voter and retired pharmacist.

But the GOP’s law-and-order message also has butted up against changing demographics and priorities in the suburbs as Democrats target more than a dozen state House districts, many just outside of Houston or Dallas. The state has been a top priority for both parties in the nationwide battle for statehouses: The GOP controls 29 state legislatures and Democrats hope to flip more than a half-dozen chambers, including in Minnesota, Arizona and Pennsylvania, next month.

The two competitive statehouse races in Collin County are getting a boost from celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and Willie Nelson, who have latched onto a phone-bank campaign organized by Beto O’Rourke.

Since Democrats made major inroads in the Texas suburbs in 2018, Abbott has been attempting to halt their momentum by touting GOP support for law enforcement. He has railed against Democratic leaders in Austin, the state capital, who voted to divert $150 million from policing to housing, social service and health-care initiatives.

Abbott responded by proposing legislation that would cut off funding and limit the powers of Texas cities that reduce police department

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Republicans defend Barrett confirmation hearing; Democrats warn she would overturn healthcare law

Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) warned of a “long, contentious week” of confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, but pledged to try to deliver a fair process as Republicans aim to sprint President Trump’s nominee to the court by election day.

a group of people sitting at a table: Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett arrives for her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill on Monday. (Caroline Brehman/Pool via AP)

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Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett arrives for her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill on Monday. (Caroline Brehman/Pool via AP)

“This is probably not about persuading each other unless something really dramatic happens,” Graham said, addressing the senators in the hearing room and those watching remotely. “All the Republicans will vote yes and all the Democrats will vote no,” he predicted.


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Graham defended Republicans’ decision to move the nomination so close to the November election following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Graham previously promised twice that he would not fill a Supreme Court vacancy if it occurred in an election year. Those assurances came after Republicans in 2016 blocked President Obama from filling a vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, saying it was too close to the election.

“Republicans should honor this word,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) of Graham’s promise, “and let the American people be heard. Simply put, I believe we should not be moving forward on this nomination. Not until the election is ended and the next president has taken office.”

Republicans appear to have the votes to confirm Barrett just days before the election.

“There is nothing unconstitutional about this process,” Graham said.

Democrats are pinning their strategy to block the nomination on tying Barrett to the possible elimination of the Affordable Care Act. The fate of the law will be decided by a Supreme Court case to be heard shortly after the election.

“We can’t afford to back to those days when Americans were denied coverage,” Feinstein said, pointing to past comments by Barrett about problems with the 2010 law.

Republicans view Barrett’s nomination as a rare opportunity to create a 6-3 conservative Supreme Court majority as well as energize voters to turn out at the ballot box for the president and Senate Republicans in increasingly difficult races.

Two Senate Republicans have voiced opposition to confirming a nominee so close to the election after Republicans blocked President Obama’s pick to the Supreme Court, Merrick Garland, after Scalia died in February 2016.

Barrett, a 7th Circuit Court of Appeals judge and former professor at the University of Notre Dame, plans to tell the committee that “policy decisions and value judgments” should be made by elected officials, not the courts, according to her prepared remarks.

Her opening statement, released Sunday, emphasizes a respect for precedent and settled law, and a view that the courts are “not designed to solve every problem or right every wrong in our public life.”

The tension around Barrett’s confirmation hearing has only increased in the wake of two Judiciary Committee Republicans coming down with COVID-19. Both senators could have

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House Democrats discuss tougher antitrust law, some Republicans agree

By Diane Bartz

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel discussed ways to tighten antitrust laws on Thursday, with two Republicans on the Democrat-dominated panel indicating potential support for some changes.

The antitrust subcommittee, chaired by Representative David Cicilline, is expected to release a much-anticipated report into the four big tech companies — Amazon.com Inc <AMZN.O>, Facebook Inc <FB.O>, Apple <APPL.O> and Alphabet’s Google <GOOGL.O> — as soon as Monday.

In the hearing, Cicilline said the tech companies used strategies such as self-preferencing and predatory pricing to grow. “These once-scrappy, underdog startups have grown into the kinds of monopolies we last saw more than a century ago,” he said.

One witness, Bill Baer, who headed the Justice Department Antitrust Division during the Obama administration, argued to the committee that successive court rulings over the years have made it harder to block a merger.

“If courts are unwilling to step back from this overreach, legislation may well be needed to re-set the boundaries,” he said.

Representative Ken Buck, a Republican, appeared swayed by calls for tougher antitrust law, including giving more funding to the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission.

“We also need to seriously consider increasing scrutiny on big tech companies, including shifting the burden of proof required for a market dominant company to prove that a merger is not anti-competitive,” he said.

Representative Kelly Armstrong, a Republican, said he agreed with Buck on the need for “more money, more resources, (and) more enforcement.” He indicated he would be interested in discussing “tweaks” to antitrust law.

Rep. Jim Jordan, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, repeated his concern that Big Tech firms were “out to get conservatives.”

The Justice Department is also probing the big four tech platforms, and is expected to file a lawsuit against Google next week.

Facebook and Amazon also face inquiries by the FTC, while U.S. state attorneys general are looking at Facebook and Google.

(Reporting by Diane Bartz; Additional reporting by Nandita Bose; editing by Richard Pullin)

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