Senate Judiciary Committee’s Record on Virtual Hearings: May – Sept. 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted Congress. According to GovTrack, 72 members of Congress so far “have been quarantined, tested positive for COVID-19, or came in contact with someone with COVID-19.”

Last week, two Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee—Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.)—announced that they had tested positive for COVID-19. Two additional Republican members of the Committee—Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas)—have tested negative but are self-quarantining.

On Saturday, Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) announced “no change” to the Committee’s upcoming hearing to consider Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court, set to begin on October 12.

In a statement, Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) argued to postpone Judge Barrett’s hearing, stating “that health and safety must guide the schedule for all Senate activities, including hearings.” They also contended that “there is bipartisan agreement that a virtual confirmation hearing for a lifetime appointment to the federal bench is not an acceptable substitute.”

Since March, when Congress first closed its doors to the public, the Senate Judiciary Committee has held six judicial nomination hearings to consider both federal circuit and district court nominees.

Of the Senators who appeared for these hearings, a significant number appeared virtually. Below is a chart detailing Senators’ attendance for each nomination hearing since March, including whether they appeared in person, remotely or were absent.

MemberMay 6May 20June 17June 24July 29Sept. 9
Lindsey GrahamIn personIn personIn person
Chuck GrassleyIn personIn personIn person
John CornynIn person
Mike LeeIn personIn personIn person
Ted CruzIn personIn personIn person
Ben SasseIn person
Josh HawleyIn personIn personIn personIn personIn personIn person
Thom TillisRemoteRemote
Joni ErnstIn personIn person
Mike Crapo
John KennedyIn personIn personIn personIn personRemote
Marsha BlackburnRemoteRemoteIn personRemote
Dianne FeinsteinIn personIn personIn personIn personIn person
Patrick LeahyRemote
Dick DurbinIn personIn personIn personIn person
Sheldon WhitehouseRemoteRemote
Amy KlobucharRemote
Chris CoonsIn personIn person
Richard BlumenthalIn personIn personIn personIn personIn personIn person
Mazie HironoRemoteRemoteRemoteRemoteRemote
Cory BookerIn personRemote
Kamala Harris

(This post originally appeared at the R Street Institute.)

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Topics: Committees & Caucuses