WASHINGTON – Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearings this week offer President Donald Trump and Senate Republicans one of their final chances before the election to shift the fall agenda away from the coronavirus pandemic and toward an issue they believe is more politically beneficial: solidifying a conservative majority on the nation’s high court.
But reminders of covid-19 will be inescapable.
The mere circumstances of the confirmation hearing – usually a packed affair on Capitol Hill that draws hundreds of supporters, protesters and observers – will be bare-bones, with rigorous social-distancing guidelines in place to avoid transmission among the few allowed inside the Hart Senate Office meeting room. At least two members of the Judiciary Committee will participate in the proceedings remotely, after being diagnosed with the novel coronavirus or to protect themselves from covid-19, the illness it causes.
And Democratic senators, realizing that their most potent weapon