On the last day of Barrett’s hearing, as with Kavanaugh’s hearing, the committee heard witnesses. Both Kavanaugh and Barrett received a “well qualified” rating from representatives from the American Bar Association. Republicans lined up witnesses who spoke personally to the nominee’s character and qualifications. Democrats lined up witnesses who said Barrett’s confirmation threatened certain causes, such as the Affordable Care Act or abortion.
Some pro-Barrett witnesses argued against the notion that her conservative worldview or Roman Catholic faith would make her rule according to one political party’s preferences. University of Virginia law professor Saikrishna Prakash in his statement said that both political parties should expect Barrett’s rulings to disappoint them at times: “She will reach results that some of us will criticize, maybe even disdain. We have seen this before, and we will see it again.”
The vacancy that Kavanaugh ultimately filled fell on a midterm election year, but no October surprise overtook the headlines about the hearing itself. But as Barrett’s hearing neared its end, a potential October surprise directed at Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden surfaced, then was quickly stifled.
On Oct. 14, the New York Post published a story claiming Biden’s son Hunter attempted to involve his father in his business dealings with Chinese and Ukrainian corporations. The Biden campaign denied any meeting occured between then–Vice President Joe Biden and a Ukrainian gas company executive.
The Post based the story on emails from an abandoned hard drive obtained by President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.
Twitter and Facebook initially halted shares of the story on their platforms. Twitter said the report violated its “hacked materials policy,” and Facebook cast doubt on the article’s veracity. Their actions inflamed Republican lawmakers, who accused the social media giants of censorship. The Senate Judiciary Committee voted Thursday to allow Graham to subpoena Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.
This year it’s the Hunter Biden story accounting for drama, not Barrett’s nomination. “I just want to say to my Democratic colleagues, I have lost sleep over this hearing. I did not know how it would go,” Graham said in his closing remarks at Barrett’s hearing. “Thank you on behalf of the country for allowing us to get through this hearing in a fashion that I think it is befitting of the Senate.”