Rep. Paul Renner of the Palm Coast chairs the Judiciary Committee in the Florida House, and in that context, he has a unique perspective on what is happening in the same committee in the U.S. Senate.
With that committee preparing to begin hearings Monday on the U.S. Supreme Court nomination of Amy Coney Barrett, Renner lines up with his fellow Republicans who seek to expedite the process and seat President Donald Trump‘s third high court nominee before Nov. 3.
“She’s a person of incredible intellect and integrity,” Renner said, “an originalist and a textualist … who understands the proper role of a judge.”
“When the Constitution or the Rule of Law differ from her own personal views, the Constitution or the Rule of Law wins,” Renner said, adding that he would expect Barrett to be “immune from the politics of the day” and governed by “neutral principles” when ruling.
He also expect that she would, like former Justice Antonin Scalia, be driven to make decisions guided by those foundational principles and not her “personal views.”
While the 11th hour nomination has roiled Democrats from presidential nominee Joe Biden to the base, Republicans have been known to emerge from these nomination fights with justices that disappoint the base, including but not limited to Warren Burger (a Richard Nixon pick), John Roberts (a George W. Bush selection), and Neil Gorsuch (a Donald Trump choice).
Gov. Ron DeSantis, among others, has complained recently about the latter pair.
Renner contended that the opinions of justices only change if they change “in terms of what they described as their philosophy during the confirmation process.”
The goal, he reiterated, was not to get a “conservative vote on the court,” but to get someone who backs the Constitution and Rule of Law, who understands what their “limited and important role is.”
Regarding concerns about infections in the Senate chamber at the time of the vote itself, which must be in person even as the confirmation process can be virtual through the committee hearings starting Monday, Renner called them “hypotheticals.”
“Anything can happen,” Renner quipped. “Half the chamber could be wiped out.”
But the Senators currently positive will likely have recovered by the time the full body votes on Barrett, and will be the “safest people in the Chamber in a couple of weeks.”
While that remains to be seen, what’s clear is that the first leg of the nomination process is on.