Feinstein and Democrats are expected to focus on healthcare during the hearings. Feinstein still faces criticism for her comments during Barrett’s 2017 confirmation hearing to be a federal judge. Feinstein had joined Republicans on the panel in asking Barrett about her Roman Catholic faith, but then went further by telling Barrett, then a Notre Dame law professor, that “when you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you.″

Republicans are pushing to confirm Barrett before Election Day.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham says Judge Amy Coney Barrett is in a “category of excellence” as a law professor and legal scholar.

Graham, R-S.C., praised Barrett as he opened Supreme Court confirmation hearing before the Republican-led panel. Barring a dramatic development, Republicans appear to have the votes to confirm the 48-year-old conservative appellate judge to a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court.

Graham acknowledged “the COVID problem in America is real,″ but said, “We do have a country that needs to move forward safely.” Barrett was wearing a face mask, as were all the roughly 100 people in the cavernous hearing room.

Graham cited Barrett’s testimony that she follows the judicial philosophy of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, for whom she clerked two decades ago. He called that a good summary of “who Amy Barrett is in terms of the law.″

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