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'Shameless': Senators Still Sparring Over Timing Of Supreme Court Nomination

While the outcome of Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation to the Supreme Court is not in doubt, senators remain at odds over the decision to advance a nomination so close to a presidential election.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., once claimed that he would not support such a move, but he quickly reversed himself following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

"There's nothing unconstitutional about this process," said Graham, reiterating the long-standing GOP justification to block then-President Barack Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court in an election year because the White House and Senate were controlled by opposing parties, and that an election should occur to let the people weigh in on the vacancy.

Now, Republicans say, with the White House and Senate controlled by the same party, there is no need to wait. "All I can say is I feel we are doing this constitutionally. Our Democratic friends object to the process, I respect them all," Graham said, noting that he anticipated a fully party-line vote on her nomination. "This is probably not about persuading each other unless something really dramatic happens. All Republicans will vote yes, and all Democrats will vote no," he said.

In his opening statement at Monday's hearing, Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., refers to a quote from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., about President Barack Obama's attempt to confirm a new Supreme Court justice in 2016. At the time, McConnell argued that the seat should not be filled until after the election.

Senate Minority Whip Richard Durbin, D-Ill., a member of the committee, used his opening remarks to attack that argument. "It's a shameless, self-serving, venal reversal," he said of the GOP's positions on Garland and Barrett.

Durbin noted that former justices, including Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia, enjoyed overwhelming support in their Senate confirmation processes. "Can this be the same Senate? It's not. The reason those votes were so overwhelming is because people lived by the rules, they lived by the traditions of the Senate, and they had mutual respect for one another," he said. "This process doesn't adhere to those guidelines. The haste in this pursuit before us today is unfair to the Senate and unfair, really, to the nominee."

Susan Davis is a congressional correspondent for NPR and a co-host of the NPR Politics Podcast. She has covered Congress, elections, and national politics since 2002 for publications including USA TODAY, The Wall Street Journal, National Journal and Roll Call. She appears regularly on television and radio outlets to discuss congressional and national politics, and she is a contributor on PBS's Washington Week with Robert Costa. She is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., and a Philadelphia native.