Senate again questions Supreme Court nominee: US election news

Senate again questions Supreme Court nominee: US election news

    The third day of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett has begun. President Trump, who campaigns in Iowa on Wednesday, will appear in an NBC News town hall on Thursday to counter Joe Biden’s ABC News town hall held in lieu of their second debate. As of Wednesday, early and mail-in voters had already cast more than 13 million votes, nearly 10 percent of all votes cast in the 2016 presidential election, according to the US Elections Project. Early voting begins in Kansas, Rhode Island and Tennessee with 20 days left until the November 3 election.

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the United States elections. This is Joseph Stepansky.

Wednesday, October 14: 10:45 ET – Minnesota health officials connect coronavirus infections to campaign events

Health officials in Minnesota have connected two dozen coronavirus cases to people who attended presidential campaign events in the past month, amid a surge of cases in the state, according to the New York Times.

Officials said 16 of the cases were connected to a September 18 airport rally held by Trump. While that rally was held outside, the crowd observed little social distancing and many did not wear masks.Four of those infected had gone to the rally to protest Trump, officials told the newspaper.

Three people who attended a September 30 Trump rally in Duluth, and three people who attended a September 24 rally hosted by Vice President Mike Pence in the state also tested positive.

One person who attended a September 16 even for Biden in Duluth later contracted the virus, according to the newspaper.

Supporters of Trump look on as Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Duluth International Airport in Duluth, Minnesota [File: Leah Millis/Reuters] 10:15 ET – Wide margin in early Democrat voting in Florida: Report

Democrats have outvoted Republicans in early voting by a margin of 384,000, according to Politico.

The number is significant because Republicans usually slightly outpace Democrats at this point in presidential races in early voting.

Analysts in the state told the news site that Republicans will likely make up the difference in the coming weeks, with hundreds of thousands of high-propensity Republican voters who have not yet cast their ballots.

10:00 ET – Graham calls Barrett ‘unashamedly pro-life’

Senator Lindsey Graham, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, hailed Barrett on Wednesday as “unashamedly pro-life”.

“This is history being made folks,” Graham said at the beginning of the first day of the hearing. “This is the first time in American history that we’ve nominated a woman who is unashamedly pro-life and embraces her faith without apology, and she’s going to the court. A seat at the table is waiting for you.”

“It will be a great signal to all young women who share your view of the world,” Graham added.

Under questioning by Graham, Barrett reiterated her comments from Tuesday that the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that recognised a woman’s constitutional right to abortion was not a “super-precedent” that could never potentially be overturned.

09:30 ET – Trump, Biden to hold rival TV town halls instead of debate

Trump will be featured in a televised town hall Thursday on NBC News, the network said, setting up a direct scheduling clash with rival Joe Biden, who had already planned his own version of a town hall forum.

The two were originally meant to have been meeting for their second debate on Thursday evening. Instead, they will be simultaneously, but separately, talking to voters in TV studios – NBC for Trump and ABC for Biden.

Trump will be in Miami, the network said, while Biden, who had already booked his appearance last week, will be in Philadelphia.

Their scheduled debate had also been designed as a town hall where the two candidates would have fielded questions from voters, but this was upended after Trump contracted the coronavirus. He later refused debate organisers’ attempts to switch the format to a virtual appearance, forcing the debate’s cancellation.

09:00 ET – Third day of Barrett hearing begins

Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett is back before the Senate Judiciary Committee to face more questions from senators at her confirmation hearing.

Tuesday’s session lasted nearly 12 hours. Barrett declined to voice an opinion on potential election-related litigation involving Trump or the presidential transition of power. She also said she didn’t view the 1973 Roe v Wade decision that affirmed the right to abortion as an inviolable “super-precedent” that could not be overturned.

Regarding the Affordable Care Act – which was passed during the era of President Barack Obama, provides healthcare for more than 20 million people, and comes before the court next month – Barrett says she doesn’t recall seeing Trump’s statements that he planned to nominate justices who would repeal the law.

The committee is scheduled to take a preliminary vote on her nomination on Thursday. The GOP-controlled Senate is expected to confirm her before Election Day. Barrett would replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, shifting the court’s 5-4 conservative edge to a 6-3 majority.

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Read all the updates from Tuesday, (October 13) here.