A four-day Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing for judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald Trump’s nominee to the US Supreme Court is to begin today, Monday.
This is a key step before a final full Senate vote by the end of October on her nomination for a lifetime job on the court.
In a copy of her prepared remarks released on Sunday, Barrett said that as a judge she seeks to “reach the result required by the law, whatever my own preferences might be”.
Her confirmation to replace the late liberal justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg would create a 6-3 conservative majority on the court that many liberals fear could lead to rulings rolling back abortion rights and expanding religious and gun rights.
Barrett, 48, a devout Catholic, is expected to face hard Democratic questioning on abortion.
Republicans have said questions about Barrett’s religious faith should be off-limits and so far, Democrats have indicated they will not focus on it.
Democratic senator Mazie Hirono said in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday that Barrett’s religious views were “irrelevant”.
Candidates do not go before the gruelling Senate Judiciary Committee inquisition without extensive preparation. Barrett will have spent days being trained how to withstand probing questioning from senators.
So-called Murder Boards will have featured significantly. These are exercises where accomplished lawyers play devil’s advocate to critically expose her weaknesses and help her prepare herself.
The term murder board has its origins in the military but the practice has been enthusiastically adopted by business and politics, and they can and do make or break a candidate.
George W Bush nominated his White House Counsel Harriet Miers to succeed Sandra Day O’Connor to the Supreme Court. However, Miers withdrew her nomination after, it was said, performing badly in her murder boards.