Republicans lawmakers the US Senate Judiciary Committee have voted to advance the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald Trump's replacement for late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, to the Supreme Court despite a boycott by Democrats.
The result of Thursday's hearing, at which all the 10 Democratic members of the committee were absent, greenlighted a full Senate vote scheduled for October 26 in which the Republicans, who hold the majority in the chamber, have enough votes to confirm Trump's nominee, reports Xinhua news agency.
Pictures of people who rely on the Affordable Care Act were placed on the empty seats for the Democratic senators on the panel, a reminder of the Democrats' argument that if Barrett, a conservative judge, were to be installed on the high court, the Obama-era health care law will very likely be repealed as the court hears the case on its constitutionality on November 10, one week after Election Day.
"That was their choice," said Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, referring to the Democrats' decision to boycott the hearing.
"It will be my choice to vote the nominee out of committee. We're not going to allow them to take over the committee.
"I've never seen anyone more capable than Judge Barrett," said Graham, whose 11 fellow Republicans on the panel also unanimously voted to approve the nomination.
Since the death of Justice Ginsburg, Democrats have opposed nominating a new justice so close to the presidential election, arguing that a nominee should instead be decided by the president-elect chosen by the American people.
With regard to Barrett, Democrats have criticized the 48-year-old appellate court judge for her opposition to Obamacare as well as conservative views on abortion rights.
Barrett was nominated by President Trump on September 26.
If confirmed, she is expected to lock in a 6-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court for decades.