The Senate confirmation hearings for President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, are set to begin this week. If confirmed, Barrett, 48, will take her place on the high court, replacing the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
What are the details?
The hearings, which begin Monday morning and will last through Thursday, are expected to be contentious. The nomination is a political lightning rod, as Democrats are opposed to appointing a conservative Supreme Court justice so close to a presidential election and Republicans are likewise determined to confirm Barrett to shore up a conservative majority on the court while they have the votes to do so.
Coming into the hearings, Republicans appear to have the necessary votes to confirm Barrett, with only two members of the GOP's 53-member majority signaling they won't vote support the nomination.
According to NPR, the first day of proceedings will feature opening statements by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, led by the committee's chairman, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and its ranking member, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). That will be followed by by an opening statement by Barrett, who currently serves on the Seventh Circuit of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Tuesday and Wednesday will feature open questioning of Barrett by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and on Thursday, outside witnesses will testify for and against her nomination.
What to watch for
While Republicans appear to have the votes and it is unlikely that any GOP senator would flip at this point, that probably won't stop Democrats from trying to make a spectacle of the hearings. If they are able to create a negative moment for Barrett during the hearings, it could at least help their election chances.
Democrats are expected to press Barrett on the Affordable Care Act and specifically on past statements she has made criticizing the Supreme Court's upholding of the health care law.
"This is the No. 1 issue that the American people care about. And it is at direct stake with this Supreme Court nominee given her past statements, given the balance on the court," Democratic Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a phone interview with Politico on Sunday. "Early on, I got together with Pelosi and Biden and that's what we said: 'We're going to focus on that above all.'"
Democrats may also bring up Barrett's Catholic faith during the questioning, though they will probably be more cautious with the subject this time around.
During Barrett's 2017 appeals court confirmation, Feinstein grilled Barrett saying, "the dogma lives loudly within you, and that's of concern." Needless to say, the remarks did not play well.
Ahead of her Supreme Court confirmation, Republicans have preemptively declared that Barrett's faith should be off-limits and of no consequence. But it remains to be seen whether Democrats oblige.