Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett
Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett
PIC: AFP

Confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett are set to begin as a divided Senate charges ahead on President Donald Trump's pick to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and cement a conservative court majority before Election Day.

Barrett, a federal appeals court judge, will tell the Senate Judiciary Committee that she is "forever grateful" for Ginsburg's trailblazing path as a woman.

But she is resolved to maintain the perspective of her own mentor, the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia and "apply the law as written," according to her prepared opening remarks for the hearings, which start Monday as the country is in the grips of the coronavirus pandemic.

"Courts are not designed to solve every problem or right every wrong in our public life," Barrett says in the remarks, which The Associated Press obtained.

Republicans, who control the Senate, are moving at a breakneck pace to seat Barrett before the Nov. 3 election to secure Trump's pick and hear a high-profile challenge to the Affordable Care Act and any election-related challenges.

Democrats are trying in vain to delay the fast-track confirmation by raising fresh concerns about the safety of meeting during the pandemic after two GOP senators on the panel tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Spokesmen for Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., said the senators are symptom-free. Tillis will participate remotely Monday. Lee's spokesman said the senator would be making a decision on whether to attend Monday morning, per his doctor's orders. Both tested positive 10 days ago.

Key Democrats are staying away. California Sen. Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice presidential nominee and a committee member, plans to participate remotely from her Senate office due to coronavirus concerns, her spokesman said Sunday.

The committee released a letter from the Architect of the Capitol on Sunday that says the hearing room has been set up in consultation with the Office of Attending Physician with appropriate distance between seats and air ventilation systems that meet or exceed industry standards.

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