GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A Kent County Circuit Court judge thinks the confirmation process will happen fairly quickly possibly before election day.
“You know, he nominates with the advice and consent of the senate,” said Curt Benson, circuit court judge for Kent County.
We talked with him about Saturday’s announcement that Amy Coney Barrett is President Trump’s third nomination to the high court, behind justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.
“I expect, given the fact that the senate is by and large republican and it’s a republican president that she’ll get confirmed,” said Benson.
President Obama nominated Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court in 2016 following the death of Antonin Scalia.
The republican-led Senate blocked him claiming it was too close to the election eight months away. This time we’re less than six weeks out.
“They did not move Garland to the full senate because Senator Mitch McConnell had the power to prevent that from happening. They are moving, and will move Judge Barrett very quickly because they have the power to do it,” said Benson.
The constitution does not put a timeline on the process but from interviews with senators to federal background checks it normally takes months.
“If this was not an election year,” said Benson, “we wouldn’t be talking about timelines so much, ok. But now they want this woman confirmed before the election so by Washington’s standards it’s gonna move extremely quickly.”
Benson says Coney Barrett will soon visit with senators, especially those she might consider to be on the fence about her nomination.
Then she’ll be publicly interviewed by the judiciary committee before it sends the nomination to senators.
“Frankly the Senate is not designed to work very quickly, I mean if you want to have a thorough background investigation – and remember she was investigated when she was nominated to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals - so it’s not like she’s an unknown entity and she’s already had a background check – an FBI background check so they’ll just be supplementing that.”
It took senators nearly six months to confirm Coney Barrett to the 7th Circuit. Benson says pushing her through faster for the highest court in the land could be risky.
“She’s only been a judge for three years but she’s already offered several hundred opinions. If you really want to know what kind of a person she is as a judge – it takes time to read through hundreds of decisions. So I guess the only risk really is A, you miss something in her background which might prove disqualifying or B, you don’t really know who you’re dealing with because you haven’t had the time to study her work product.”
She’s fairly young for the job at 48-years-old. A trend that seemed to start with Ronald Regan. A lifetime appointment to the bench extending a president’s legacy far beyond their time in office.
“I mean she’s got school-aged children at home which when you think about it it’s quite unusual for a supreme court justice to have to get up in the morning, feed her kids and get them off to the school bus,” said Benson.
Senators only need a majority vote to confirm Coney Barrett.