Every Time 2021 Grammy Nominee Billie Eilish Set Her Own Fashion Rules – E! Online


Billie Eilish is no stranger to living by the beat of her own drum.

The singer unwittingly broke into the music scene in 2016. At just 13, she and older brother Finneas wrote and produced “Ocean Eyes,” which was only shared to Soundcloud at the request of Billie’s dance teacher because he wanted to choreograph a routine to it. But when the siblings woke up the next day, “Ocean Eyes” had gone viral and within months Billie was signed to Interscope Records. 

Fast forward to 2021 and Billie, now 19, is a bonafide pop star gearing up for her second Grammy Awards.

Come Sunday, March 14, she stands to add four more awards to her already impressive collection. At last year’s ceremony, Billie swept the four most major categories, making her the first female and second-ever artist to win Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best New Artist in the same night. (For the record, the teen also took home Best Pop Vocal Album.)



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Biden agriculture secretary nominee wants farmers on front line of climate change fight


Agriculture Secretary nominee Tom Vilsack touted the ability that American farmers have to drive the country’s progress when it comes to climate change.

During his confirmation hearing before the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee on Tuesday, Ranking Member Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., asked about what could be done on the agriculture front to help the climate, which has quickly become the key issue for the Biden administration. Vilsack was enthusiastic about the potential farmers have.

SCHUMER SUGGESTS BIDEN DECLARE ‘CLIMATE EMERGENCY’

“I think agriculture is probably the first and best way to begin getting some wins in this climate area,” Vilsack said. “I think farmers are prepared for it, farmers are anxious to do it.”

Stabenow is a co-sponsor of the Senate’s Growing Climate Solutions Act, a bipartisan bill that aims to help farmer participate in carbon markets, whereby those who reduce their carbon emissions below a certain level can earn credits that can then be sold to others who need produce higher levels of carbon – a process known as “cap and trade.”

JOHN KERRY FAMILY PRIVATE JET EMITTED ESTIMATED 116 METRIC TONS OF CARBON OVER PAST YEAR

Vilsack agreed that a system that incentivizes action will see support from farmers.

“If it’s voluntary, if it’s market-based, if it’s incentive-based, I think you will see farmers, ranchers, and producers cooperate extensively,” he said.

In the meantime, he said, there are already proposals that can be acted upon on the administrative end. These include making sure that any potential measures benefit farmers and not third parties, and forming an advisory group of farmers that would focus on how to structure carbon sequestration – a method of drawing carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.

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Vilsack said the government also needs to improve when it comes to researching carbon sequestration.

“There are ways in which root systems of crops can potentially be designed in a way that will sequester more carbon,” he said. “We ought to be exploring that, we ought to be looking at ways in which we can increase market opportunities for greater storage.”

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Trundle school principal and 2021 Australian of the Year nominee John Southon a rural mental health advocate | Goulburn Post


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For those who have the privilege of knowing John Southon, would know he’s passionate about two things – his hometown of Trundle, and helping and advocating for country people when they need it most. When the Trundle community really began to feel the pinch of the drought more than three years ago, that’s when John stepped forward. But the 52-year-old central school principal says the drought just gave him an “excellent vehicle to get my message out there”, adding that mental health was the bigger issue that’s always severely plagued country towns. “It’s always been an issue, it’s a big passion of mine,” John said. John attracted media attention across the globe through his public advocacy, generating many donations for drought-affected families in Trundle and raising $175,000, with the help of his staff at Trundle Central. He’s our everyday hero and this year he was nominated for an Australian of the Year Award. A record number of 5500 people were nominated for the 2021 award, with 130 people selected as state and territory finalists. The 2021 theme of Australia Day was Reflect, Respect, Celebrate and award organiser the National Australia Day Council wanted to celebrate all those nominated – the everyday heroes. ACM, publisher of this masthead, is media partner of the 2021 Australian of the Year Awards, which were announced on Monday night. John was quite overwhelmed with the nomination and said he didn’t know what was happening when the Australia Day Council called him about the awards. But John admitted he did have mixed feelings about the nomination, saying that the problems in the country are big and people in the city aren’t aware of its extent. “I think it’s good not high profile people were nominated,” he said. “I’m very happy with that aspect.” READ MORE: Trundle’s inspirational Australian John Southon features in podcast Among John’s efforts – such as coordinating multiple individuals and agencies to deliver ongoing drought relief to Trundle – he refurbished the school’s showers and opened them up to families when the town started to run out of water and John heard kids were coming to school without showers. John obtained tools for Year 10 students learning mechanics or farming and arranged driving lessons for Year 11 and 12. But a big focus – one he plans to continue into the 2021 school year and beyond – was starting a teenage mental health program across the region. John saw how the drought affected the community’s mental health. With marriage breakdowns, suicides and domestic violence, he understood the school is the centre of a child’s life and wanted to ensure it was an “emotional oasis” for them. Over his teaching career John has lost students to suicide. “We’re losing our young people at a national disgrace,” he said. “Mental health is such a hideous problem in our communities. “And there’s still so much stigma around it and people won’t talk about it, we’re trying to break that down. “The process in family court, for example, takes so long, so you have these kids and families in limbo.” John plans this year to look at how they can cater for the individual – instead of using a standardised approach, and what services are available. “We’re actually teaching children, we want to empower them, teach them to be the best they can be, teach them they can fail with dignity and learn to pick themselves up when they do,” he said. John also wants more political representation in Trundle, he wants the town’s local members of parliament to visit more often. “I want things to change, it’s not good,” he said. John said he’s shown representatives from organisations and charities in the city some of the conditions children in the country are living in. “They’re baffled that rural poverty exists in a country town,” he said. “There are children who don’t have running water at home… And it’s 2021.” John’s selfless dedication to his community was recognised when he won the Leadership Award at the 2019 NSW/ACT Regional Achievement and Community Awards. READ MORE: Send a letter to the editor by filling out the online form below.

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Rashida Tlaib accused of anti-Semitism for reaction to Biden’s Jewish Sec of State nominee


Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., has reignited accusations of anti-Semitism in response to President-elect Biden’s nominee to become Secretary of State. 

The Biden transition team announced on Monday that Antony Blinken, the former deputy secretary of state during the Obama administration and a foreign policy adviser for Biden, was selected to head the State Department. 

Speculation of Blinken’s nomination was fueling over the weekend, which sparked a reaction from the Michigan Democrat after former Bernie Sanders campaign manager Faiz Shakir called Biden’s selection a “solid choice.” 

SQUAD MEMBER RASHIDA TLAIB, ACCUSED OF BEING ANTI-SEMITIC, TO SPEAK ON PANEL ABOUT ANTI=SEMITISM

“So long as he doesn’t suppress my First Amendment right to speak out against [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s racist and inhumane policies. The Palestinian people deserve equality and justice,” Tlaib wrote on Sunday night. 

Critics were puzzled by Tlaib’s tweet, many of them suggesting that the reason she invoked Israeli policy was that Blinken is Jewish. 

“Biden names a Jew to his cabinet What’s Rashida’s response?! ‘Welp, as long as that Judische pick doesn’t stop me from focusing my hatred on one country, Israel, then he’s a good Jew!’ It’s not your 1A right you’re trying to protect but your vile Jew-hatred! That’s ALL yours!” Americans Against Antisemitism founder Dov Hikind reacted.

“You can just say you’re worried because he’s Jewish…”  the Republican Jewish Coalition tweeted.

JEWISH GROUPS CONDEMN RASHIDA TLAIB OVER TIES TO RADICAL PRO-HEZBOLLAH, ANTI-ISRAEL ACTIVIST

“The subtext: Blinken is Jewish so, of course, the leading anti-Semite in Congress just wants to ensure that the all-powerful Jew won’t suppress her right to condemn other all-powerful Jews,” radio host Jason Rantz said. 

“You are absolutely free to be as antisemitic, racist, dishonest and hateful as you like Rashida,” author Chad Felix Greene wrote. 

“Would she have said this if the nominee weren’t jewish?” Tablet Magazine associate editor Naom Blum asked. 

The next day, Tlaib followed up her initial tweet condemning the Trump administration’s pro-Israel policy stance.

“Sec. Pompeo has moved to suppress BDS [Boycott, Divest, and Sanction], a peaceful protest movement protected by the 1st Amendment. I hope that Mr. Blinken and President-Elect Biden’s Administration will change course from Trump’s State Department & not target or suppress support of Palestinian human rights,” Tlaib tweeted. 

Rep. Tlaib’s office did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment. 

The outspoken “Squad” member recently raised eyebrows after it was announced she would be participating in an event called “Dismantling Anti-Semitism, Winning Justice,” which is a panel discussion featuring other Israel critics like professor Marc Lamont Hill and writer Peter Beinart. 

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Tlaib was previously criticized by House Republicans after describing the “calm feeling” she experienced when thinking about the Holocaust. However, the congresswoman said her critics were policing and “twisting” her words and defended the comments she made. 

Fox News’ Sam Dorman contributed to this report. 





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Trump’s court nominee fields tough questioning on second day of hearings


Donald Trump”s Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett faced a second day of questions on Capitol Hill on Tuesday where Democratic senators grilled her on issues such as abortion, healthcare, and a potential election fight.

The nominee, a favourite for conservatives, insisted that she did not have a personal agenda, stating that she would decide cases “as they come.”

Barrett, a 48-year-old appellate court judge, was nominated to replace liberal icon Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who died last month due to complications from pancreatic cancer.

Her nomination to the court would create a 6-3 conservative majority, tilting the court to the right for years to come.

On her second day of hearings, she insisted her personal conservative views would not influence her legal judgements.

“Judges can’t just wake up one day and say I have an agenda, I like guns, I hate guns, I like abortion, I hate abortion, and walk in like a royal queen and impose their will on the world,” Barrett told the Senate Judiciary Committee during its second day of hearings.

“It’s not the law of Amy,” she said. “It’s the law of the American people.”

The top Democrat on the panel Senator Dianne Feinstein said it was “distressing not to get a good answer” on how Barrett would handle landmark abortion cases including Roe v Wade and the follow up case Planned Parenthood v Casey.

“I don’t have an agenda to try to overrule Casey,” Barrett said. “I have an agenda to stick to the rule of law and decide cases as they come.”

But she also declined to characterise Roe v Wade as a “super-precedent” case that should not be overturned.

“Let’s not make any mistake about it,” said Senator Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice presidential candidate, who said that allowing Trump to fill the seat with Barrett “poses a threat to safe and legal abortion in our country.”

Barrett, like her former mentor Justice Antonin Scalia, says she is an originalist, meaning she interprets the Constitution’s text as it was written at the time.

“I interpret the Constitution as a law, that I interpret its text as text and I understand it to have the meaning that it had at the time people ratified it. So that meaning doesn’t change over time. And it’s not up to me to update it or infuse my own policy views into it,” Barrett said.

Republicans have defended Barrett’s personal views and Catholic faith against criticism on her potential views on abortion and same-sex marriage.

Senate Republicans have rushed through the nomination hoping to confirm the judge before the November 3 election. The same Senators refused to confirm Barack Obama’s 2016 candidate because it was eight months before an election.

But if confirmed, Barrett would join the court before a challenge to the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, that Republicans have tried to repeal.

Barrett told Senators she is “not hostile” to the law despite past writings that have been perceived as critical of it.

“I’m not here on a mission to destroy the Affordable Care Act,” Barrett said. Yet she struggled to answer specifics about the law as well.

On racism in the US, she said it “persists” and that the death of George Floyd at the hands of police had a “very personal” effect on her family.

But she told Democratic Senator Dick Durbin that “making broader diagnoses about the problem of racism is kind of beyond what I’m capable of doing as a judge.”

She also declined to say whether she would recuse herself from any election related cases.

Senator Lindsay Graham has set an initial committee vote on Barrett’s nomination for Thursday, underscoring Republicans’ confidence and goal to allow the full Senate to vote on her nomination by the end of the month.



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Senate begins confirmation hearings for President Trump’s SCOTUS nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett


Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett listens during her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Oct. 12, 2020. (Erin Schaff/The New York Times via AP, Pool)

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UPDATED 8:41 AM PT – Monday, October 12, 2020

The Senate Judiciary Committee began the first day of Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearings. Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle delivered their opening statements on Capitol Hill Monday, arguing Barrett’s qualifications to sit on the nation’s highest court.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) opened the hearing honoring the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg by noting the vacancy on the court came “through the tragic loss of a great woman.” He added, “we’re going to fill that vacancy with another great woman.”

“The person appearing before this committee is in a category of excellence, something the country should be proud of,” Sen. Graham continued. “And she will have a chance to make her case to be a worthy successor and to become the ninth member of the Supreme Court of the United States.”

Some senators took part in the hearings remotely while others participated in the hearing room, which has been modified to comply with CDC coronavirus guidelines.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks remotely during a confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Monday, Oct. 12, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Erin Schaff/The New York Times via AP, Pool)

During Monday’s confirmation hearing, Judge Barrett thanked President Trump for the opportunity to prove herself before the Senate on whether she should sit on the high court. She credited her rise in through the judiciary system to the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

Judge Barrett also said the courts are critical to a free society, but are not designed to solve every problem or right every wrong in our public life.

RELATED: Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s Judicial History





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5 takeaways from the first Senate hearing on Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett


The first day of confirmation hearings for U.S. President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett featured plenty of fiery speeches — many of them aimed at next month’s presidential election rather than the nominee herself.

Democrats focused more on the Affordable Care Act, and Trump’s backing of a lawsuit that would invalidate the law — a hearing scheduled for November 10. Republicans defended the decision to confirm Barrett so close to the election and sought to preempt any questions about her Catholic faith, mainly by criticizing Democratic comments from 2017.

In fact, viewers might be forgiven if they forgot at times that this was a Supreme Court confirmation rather than a political convention.

Here are five takeaways from day one of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings:

 

It’s all over but the politicking

Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham acknowledged the elephant in the room at the outset of a four-day confirmation hearing process: Nobody’s mind on the committee is going to be changed by what transpires in the Senate hearing room.

“This is probably not about persuading each other, unless something really dramatic happens,” Graham said. “All Republicans will vote yes, and all Democrats will vote no.”

As a result, both sides have a clear eye to the election three weeks away as they debate the Supreme Court nominee — and as they will question Barrett over the next two days.

Four Republicans on the committee, including Graham, are up for reelection next month. And Sen. Kamala Harris of California is the Democratic vice-presidential nominee.

Democrats put their clear focus on the threat Obamacare faces when a Republican-led, and Trump-backed, case to strike it down goes before the Supreme Court just a week after the election. The message that health care was at risk for millions of Americans was one that helped Democrats win over voters during the 2018 election and take back the House.

Republicans, meanwhile, went after Democrats for attacks on Barrett, and in particular her faith — while frequently citing the bitter 2018 fight over Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation, which helped Republicans in several 2018 Senate contests in red states.

“We all watched the hearings for Justice Kavanaugh,” said Republican Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana. “It was a freak show. It looked like the Cantina Bar scene out of Star Wars.”

 

Dems make a personal pitch to protect health care

Democrats showed a united front and an organized, perhaps surprising, message with posters scattered across their half of the dais showing the faces of people who relied on the Affordable Care Act for their health care.

A Democratic committee aide said the decision to use personal stories stemmed from an effort to to make Barrett’s confirmation as tangible to people as possible that focused on “the real-life effects of a Justice Barrett’s decisions.”

Democrats feel the health care angle, stressing Trump’s efforts and the impact of gutting Obamacare, is a clear political winner. Democratic leaders, including presidential nominee Joe Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer agreed on the strategy, according to sources familiar with the discussions.

“They are trying to get a justice onto the Court in time to ensure they can strip away the protections in the Affordable Care Act,” Harris said of Republicans. “If they succeed, it will result in millions of people losing access to health care at the worst possible time in the middle of a pandemic.”

Democrats also used their health care argument to hit Trump on the COVID-19 pandemic, another key Democratic message heading into the November election. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota made a personal appeal after her husband tested positive for coronavirus earlier this year.

“He ended up in the hospital for a week on oxygen with severe pneumonia, and months after he got it, I find out the President knew it was airborne but he didn’t tell us,” Klobuchar said.

Asked about the Democrats’ unity after the hearing, Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin responded: “It’s a bit surprising yeah?”

 

Republicans look for openings to discuss religion

Republicans in their opening statements criticized Democrats for previous questions about Barrett’s Catholic faith and for stories about her association with the Christian group People of Praise.

“There are places where this committee has acted like it’s the job of the committee to delve into people’s religious communities. That’s nuts,” said Sen. Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican.

At Monday’s hearing, however, it was only the Republicans, not Democrats, discussing religion. Barrett also nodded to her religion in her opening statement, saying she believes in the power of prayer.

Still, Republicans had plenty of fodder from past hearings to knock Democrats over, including Barrett’s 2017 confirmation hearing for the federal appeals court, such as when the panel’s top Democrat, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, said, “the dogma lives loudly within you.”

Sen. Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican, accused Democrats of a “pattern and practice of religious bigotry.”

The criticisms tied to faith were more about the two days of questions to follow than the opening day speeches, as Democrats are likely to press Barrett on Roe v. Wade and other abortion cases.

Hawley criticized Sen. Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat, for saying a previous Supreme Court case, Griswold v. Connecticut, which allowed married couples the right to obtain and use contraception, was in danger of being struck down.

Hawley claimed that the reference was “another hit at Judge Barrett’s religious faith, referring to Catholic doctrinal beliefs.” But it’s a case that has been raised repeatedly at judicial confirmation hearings.

 

COVID-19 looms over hearing

Three Republican senators have tested positive for coronavirus over the past two weeks, throwing into doubt what appeared to be a sure-thing confirmation.

That danger for Republicans appears to have passed, for now, but the coronavirus threat still loomed over the hearing, as two of the Republicans who tested positive are on the Judiciary Committee.

One of those senators, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, spoke remotely at Monday’s hearing. He has said he expects to be there in person on Tuesday. The other senator who tested positive, Mike Lee of Utah, appeared in person on Monday, saying he had been cleared by his doctor to attend.

Democrats attacked Graham for moving forward with the hearing despite the positive tests — and not requiring tests for all senators on the panel.

“This hearing itself is a microcosm of Trump’s dangerous ineptitude in dealing with the COVID pandemic,” charged Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat.

Graham defended the hearing, saying that strict health protocols were being followed, arguing he was going to work to do his job just like millions of Americans. The setting meant no members of the public could attend, a break from normal confirmation hearings, and senators were spread out across the cavernous hearing room.

The pandemic-era hearing also meant one other notable distention: Barrett was wearing a black mask throughout the senators’ opening statements. Other Supreme Court nominees have needed to keep a straight face while they are often attacked, but Barrett’s expressions were masked.

 

Barrett emphasizes experience with Scalia

Monday’s hearing ended with Barrett’s own opening statement, where she discussed clerking for the late Justice Antonin Scalia and what her background would bring to the court, including that she would be the first mother of school-aged children to be a justice and the only sitting justice who didn’t graduate from Harvard or Yale Law School.

Barrett generally discussed her legal philosophy, which reflects that of Scalia, her mentor and a conservative anchor of the high court for years. “The policy decisions and value judgments of government must be made by the political branches elected by and accountable to the people,” Barrett said.

She also touched on the discussion surrounding her religion at the conclusion of her statement. “I believe in the power of prayer, and it has been uplifting to hear that so many people are praying for me,” Barrett said.

Monday’s hearing was a day of scripted rhetoric with speeches from senators and the nominee. The real action begins Tuesday with questions.

Senators will each get a half-hour to question Barrett on Tuesday and Wednesday, with Republicans and Democrats alternating turns. Then they will get another 20 minutes for a second round. With 22 senators on the panel, both days will go into the evening, representing Barrett’s toughest test before her confirmation to the high court.



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Amy Coney Barrett: Trump nominee testifies in Supreme Court hearing


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Media captionWatch live coverage as Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearing begins

US Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett has said she is “honoured and humbled” to be President Trump’s pick for a place in the top court during a tense Senate confirmation hearing.

The 48-year-old conservative jurist vowed to judge legal cases impartially.

But her selection so close to the 3 November presidential election has sparked a fierce political battle.

The panel’s Republican chairman has predicted a “contentious week” of questioning ahead.

Judge Barrett’s approval would cement a 6-3 conservative majority on the nine-member court, altering the ideological balance of the court for potentially decades to come.

Mr Trump picked Judge Barrett to replace liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died last month aged 87.

“I have been nominated to fill Justice Ginsburg’s seat, but no one will ever take her place,” Mrs Barrett told senators in her opening statement on Monday. “I will be forever grateful for the path she marked and the life she led.”

However, conservative views and decisions from the bench she has delivered as a judge on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals – of which much can be seen as opposing to the views of the late Justice Ginsburg – will be heavily scrutinised by Democrats who oppose her confirmation.

The Republicans – who currently hold a slim majority in the US Senate, the body that confirms Supreme Court judges – are trying to complete the process before Mr Trump takes on Democratic rival Joe Biden in the election.

The court’s nine justices serve lifetime appointments, and their rulings can shape public policy on everything from gun and voting rights to abortion and campaign finance.

Republicans confident amid political brawl

Supreme Court confirmation hearings are always high political drama. With a presidential election just three weeks away and the coronavirus pandemic still upending American life, however, the current environment in the US Senate Judiciary Committee is particularly volatile.

During opening remarks, Democrats demonstrated that they want Amy Coney Barrett’s hearings to be about the Republican rush to seat a new justice before the elections and the possibility that she could be a deciding vote to strike down the increasingly popular healthcare reforms passed under Democratic President Barack Obama.

To drive this point home, aides placed photos of Americans who have benefited from “Obamacare” on easels around the room as the Democratic senators began speaking.

Democrats are avoiding the divisive topic of abortion, which motivates political adversaries as much as it rallies allies, for what they feel is more favourable political ground.

Republicans, for their part, want these confirmation hearings to be business as usual. They know it will be a partisan brawl, but they’ve already won two Supreme Court confirmation fights during Donald Trump’s presidency.

The circumstances may be unusual, but if they stick together – and focus on Judge Barrett’s professional and personal qualifications – they feel confident they can prevail.

Read more: Anthony’s full analysis

Who is Amy Coney Barrett?

  • favoured by social conservatives due to record on issues like abortion and gay marriage
  • a devout Catholic but says her faith does not influence her legal opinion
  • is an originalist, which means interpreting US Constitution as authors intended, not moving with the times
  • lives in Indiana, has seven children including two adopted from Haiti

What did Judge Barrett say?

In what is effectively an interview for the job, the confirmation hearing gave Judge Barrett a chance to explain her legal philosophy and qualifications for the lifetime post.

In her remarks to the committee, she thanked President Trump for “entrusting me with this profound responsibility”, which she called the “honour of a lifetime”.

She discussed the importance of her family and how her parents prepared her for a “life of service, principle, faith, and love”.

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Media captionAmy Coney Barrett: “I will meet the challenge with both humility and courage”

The statement also paid tribute to judges she has worked with, including former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Justice Scalia’s reasoning “shaped me”, she said.

“His judicial philosophy was straightforward: A judge must apply the law as written, not as the judge wishes it were.”

Judge Barrett also argued that elected politicians make “policy decisions and value judgments”, not Supreme Court justices.

“In every case, I have carefully considered the arguments presented by the parties, discussed the issues with my colleagues on the court, and done my utmost to reach the result required by the law, whatever my own preferences might be,” she said.

What were the opening exchanges?

Committee chairman Lindsey Graham described Ms Barrett as being “in a category of excellence, something the country should be proud of”.

Top Democrat Dianne Feinstein defended healthcare reforms passed under President Barack Obama, saying that Ms Barrett’s appointment could threaten health access for millions.

“Simply put, I do not think we should be moving forward on this nomination,” she said, calling for the hearings to be delayed until after the election.

Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy said Republicans announced plans to fill Ginsberg’s seat “just one hour after the announcement of her death”.

“From that moment this process has been nothing but shameful. Worse, it will almost certainly lead to disastrous consequences for Americans.”

Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley predicted Democrats would “rustle up baseless claims and scare tactics” to smear the nominee and “outright disparage her religious beliefs”.

Rhode Island Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse called her nomination “a judicial torpedo” aimed at removing protections for sick Americans in the midst of a pandemic.

What about coronavirus concerns?

The hearing room has been prepared in consultation with health officials to ensure that social-distancing rules will be met.

Two Republican senators on the committee, Mike Lee and Thom Tillis, have recently tested positive. Mr Lee attended Monday’s Senate hearing in person, but Mr Tillis said he would attend the first day remotely.

Senator Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee who is known as one of the toughest questioners in the chamber, is participating remotely from her Senate office.

Judge Barrett and her attending family members wore masks as the senators took turns reading their opening statements.

What’s the confirmation process?

After the hearing ends, any committee member can require an additional week before the formal vote. It is not clear if the members will be able to vote remotely.

After that the Senate – the upper chamber of the US Congress – will vote to confirm or reject Judge Barrett’s nomination.

Republicans already appear to have the 51 votes needed to get Judge Barrett confirmed.

Image copyright
Reuters

Image caption

Judge Barrett clerked for the late Justice Antonin Scalia

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has vowed to hold a confirmation vote before the presidential election.

Barring a surprise, Democrats seem to have few procedural options to prevent her gliding through the Senate to the Supreme Court bench.

Why is Judge Barrett’s nomination so controversial?

Since Ginsburg’s death from cancer on 18 September, Republican senators have been accused of hypocrisy for pressing ahead with a Supreme Court nomination during an election year.

In 2016, Mr McConnell refused to hold hearings for Democratic President Barack Obama’s nominee for the court, Merrick Garland.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media caption2016 v 2020: What Republicans said about choosing a Supreme Court justice in an election year

The nomination, which came 237 days before the election, was successfully blocked because Republicans held the Senate and argued the decision should be made outside of an election year.

This time around, Mr McConnell has lauded Judge Barrett’s nomination.

Democrats say the Republicans should stand by their earlier position and let voters decide. However, Republicans counter that the Democrats have also changed their stance since 2016.

Mr Biden has called Mr Trump’s efforts to appoint a justice an “abuse of power”.

He has so far refused to comment on whether the Democrats would attempt to add seats to the Supreme Court – dubbed “court packing” – if he won the presidential election.

Battle over Supreme Court

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Getty Images



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Harris rips Barrett confirmation process as ‘illegitimate,’ claims nominee will ‘undo’ Ginsburg’s legacy 


Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, slammed the panel for carrying out what she called an “illegitimate” process to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court before Election Day, while warning President Trump’s nominee for the high court will “undo” the legacy of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Harris, D-Calif., who participated in the first day of Barrett’s Senate confirmation hearings remotely, began her opening statement by criticizing Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., for bringing “together more than 50 people to sit inside a room for hours while our nation faces a deadly airborne virus.”

“This committee has ignored commonsense requests to keep people safe—including not requiring testing for all members—despite a coronavirus outbreak among senators of this very committee,” Harris said, indirectly referencing Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, who tested positive, and has since recovered, from the novel coronavirus. Lee attended the hearing in person on Monday.

TRUMP LOOMS LARGE IN BARRETT HEARING AS HARRIS, DEMS SOUND ALARMS OVER OBAMACARE, ELECTION, CORONAVIRUS

Harris said the hearing “should have been postponed” and called the decision to carry on as planned “reckless” and puts Capitol Hill officials, workers and aides “at risk.”

A committee aide told Fox News last week, though, that staff is working with the Architect of the Capitol, Office of the Attending Physician (OAP), the Senate Sergeant at Arms, the Capitol Police, and the Rules Committee to ensure the nomination hearing for Judge Barrett is conducted safely and in accordance with public health recommendations.

Committee staff was making sure that there are PPE and sanitary stations, and there will be strict limits on people allowed into the hearing room among other precautions.

The aide also said that the committee will be meeting in a larger hearing room, in order to comply with the CDC’s and OAP’s recommendation of social distancing.

After Barrett’s nomination event in late September at the White House Rose Garden, Lee, President Trump, first lady Melania Trump, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, White House adviser Hope Hicks, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, and Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

“Senate Republicans have made it crystal clear that rushing a Supreme Court nomination is more important than helping and supporting the American people who are suffering from a deadly pandemic and economic crisis,” Harris said. “Their priorities are not the American people’s priorities. But, for the moment, Senate Republicans hold the majority in the Senate and determine the schedule, so here we are.”

Harris went on to slam the president and Senate Republicans for “jamming” Barrett through the Senate while Americans “are actually voting.”

“More than nine million Americans have already cast ballots and millions more will vote while this illegitimate committee process is underway,” Harris said. “A clear majority of Americans want whomever wins this election to fill this seat. And my Republican colleagues know that.”

Harris went on to slam Republicans, suggesting they are trying to get Barrett confirmed to the high court “in time to ensure they can strip away the protections in the Affordable Care Act,” which is set to come before the Supreme Court on Nov. 10.

Meanwhile, Harris shifted, touting Ginsburg, who passed away last month, for having “devoted her life to this fight for equal justice.”

“She defended the constitution. She advocated for human rights and equality,” Harris said. “She stood up for the rights of women. She protected workers. She fought for the rights of consumers against big corporations. She supported LGBTQ rights. And she did so much more.”

“But now, her legacy and the rights she fought so hard to protect are in jeopardy,” Harris continued. “By replacing Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg with someone who will undo her legacy, President Trump is attempting to roll back Americans’ rights for decades to come.”

She added: “Every American must understand that with this nomination, equal justice under law is at stake.”

Harris said that with the confirmation of Barrett to the high court, “voting rights are at stake; workers’ rights are at stake; consumers’ rights are at stake; the right to safe and legal abortion is at stake; holding corporations accountable is at stake; and so much more.”

Harris went on to urge Graham to “wait to confirm a new Supreme Court justice until after Americans decide who they want in the White House.”

Harris’ comments come as she and Democratic nominee Joe Biden have repeatedly condemned Republicans on the campaign trail for their push to confirm a Ginsburg successor with less than seven weeks to go until the election, warning it “would cause irreversible damage.”

“The last thing we need is to add a constitutional crisis that plunges us deeper into the abyss – deeper into the darkness,” Biden said last month, calling Trump’s and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s efforts an “exercise in raw political power.”

Democrats have objected to a Barrett confirmation so close to the election, citing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s refusal to consider President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland in 2016.

McConnell, though, has said that it is a different situation as the White House and the Senate are not held by opposing parties.

As for the effort to push a confirmation to the Supreme Court until after Election Day, Graham began the hearing by quoting Ginsburg.

”The bottom line is Justice Ginsburg, when asked about this several years ago, said that a president serves four years, not three,” Graham said. “There’s nothing unconstitutional about this process.”

But Biden and Harris have come into the spotlight in recent days on the issue of court packing.

SCHUMER SAYS DEMOCRATS WON’T GIVE GOP QUORUM TO ADVANCE BARRETT NOMINATION

The idea of “packing” the court with extra justices – attempted unsuccessfully by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1937 to force through parts of his New Deal that were ruled unconstitutional by the high court – has bubbled away on the fringes of the party for years.

But the issue has come back to the forefront – specifically on the campaign trail – after the passing of late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Trump’s nomination of Barrett to that vacancy on the high court so close to a presidential election. 

The former vice president has been asked repeatedly about his stance on the issue — a question that, over the weekend, he answered by saying that voters don’t deserve to know where he stands. 

During last week’s vice presidential debate, Harris dodged the question when asked by Vice President Mike Pence, saying only that the “American people deserve to make the decision” of “who will serve for a lifetime.”

“Joe and I are very clear the American people are voting right now, and it should be their decision about who will serve on this most important body for a lifetime,” she said.

Meanwhile, as for Ginsburg’s legacy, Barrett, as she accepted Trump’s nomination to the high court last month, said that she would “be mindful of who came before me,” saying Ginsburg “not only broke glass ceilings—she smashed them.”

“She was a woman of enormous talent and consequence,” Barrett said, while pledging to “faithfully and impartially discharge” her duties if confirmed.

Republicans appear to have the votes to move forward and confirm Barrett. Republicans have 53 votes in the Senate and can therefore afford three defections if no Democrat votes for the nominee. In that instance, Pence would be called in to break a tie.



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US Senate to press on with confirmation hearings for Trump’s Supreme Court nominee


Confirmation hearings for US Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett are set to begin as a divided Senate charges ahead on President Donald Trump’s pick to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and cement a conservative court majority before Election Day.

Barrett, a federal appeals court judge, will tell the Senate Judiciary Committee that she she is “forever grateful” for Ginsburg’s trailblazing path as a woman. But she is resolved to maintain the perspective of her own mentor, the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia and “apply the law as written,” according to her prepared opening remarks for the hearings, which start Monday as the country is in the grips of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Courts are not designed to solve every problem or right every wrong in our public life,” Barrett says in the remarks, which The Associated Press obtained.

Republicans, who control the Senate, are moving at a breakneck pace to seat Barrett before the November 3 election to secure Trump’s pick and hear a high-profile challenge to the Affordable Care Act and any election-related challenges.

Democrats are trying in vain to delay the fast-track confirmation by raising fresh concerns about the safety of meeting during the pandemic after two GOP senators on the panel tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Senator Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Senator Thom Tillis, R-NC, have not said if they will attend in person. Lee’s spokesman said the senator is symptom-free but would be making a decision on whether to attend on Monday morning per his doctor’s orders. A spokesman for Tillis did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Both tested positive 10 days ago.

Key Democrats are staying away. California Senator Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice presidential nominee and a committee member, plans to participate remotely from her Senate office due to coronavirus concerns, her spokesman said on Sunday.

The committee released a letter from the Architect of the Capitol on Sunday that says the hearing room has been set up in consultation with the Office of Attending Physician with appropriate distance between seats and air ventilation systems that meet or exceed industry standards.

“We’re going to work safely,” said the committee’s chairman, Senator Lindsey Graham, R-SC, on Fox News Channel’s “Sunday Morning Futures.” He said he took a coronavirus test last week and is “negative.”

Trump chose the 48-year-old judge after the death last month of Ginsburg, a liberal icon. It’s the opportunity to entrench a conservative majority on the court for years to come with his third justice.

Outside groups are pushing Democrats to make a strong case against what they call an illegitimate confirmation, when people are already voting in some states, saying the winner of the presidency should make the pick. No Supreme Court justice has ever been confirmed so close to a presidential contest.

“The public is with them that this shouldn’t happen before the election,” said Brian Fallon, executive director of Demand Justice, which advocates against right-leaning nominees.

The country will get an extended look at Barrett over the next three days in hearings like none other during the heated election environment and the pandemic limiting public access.

Faith and family punctuate her testimony, and she said would bring “a few new perspectives” as the first mother of school-age children on the nine-member court.

Barrett says she uses her children as a test when deciding cases, asking herself how she would view the decision if one of her children were the party she was ruling against.

“Even though I would not like the result, would I understand that the decision was fairly reasoned and grounded in the law?” she says in the prepared remarks.

A Catholic, she says she believes in the “power of prayer.” Barrett’s religious views and past leadership role in a Catholic faith community pose a challenge for Democrats as they try to probe her judicial approach to abortion, gay marriage and other social issues without veering into inappropriate questions of her faith.

Ordinarily, Barrett would get to show off her family and seven children. But the White House event announcing her nomination, in which most of the audience did not wear masks, has been labeled a “superspreader” for the coronavirus.

More than two dozen people linked to the September 26 Rose Garden event, including the two GOP senators, have contracted COVID-19 since then. Barrett and her family went maskless at the event. She and her husband, Jesse, tested positive for the virus earlier this year and recovered, two administration officials have said.

Democrats already were enraged that Republicans are moving so quickly having refused to consider President Barack Obama nominee in February 2016, well before that year’s election.

Barrett is the most openly anti-abortion Supreme Court nominee in decades and her vote could provide a majority to restrict if not overturn abortion rights. Democrats have made clear that they will press Barrett on health care, abortion and other issues where her vote could push the court further to the right.

Republicans will highlight Barrett’s belief in sticking to the text of laws and the original meaning of constitutional provisions, both Scalia trademarks as well.



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