ATLANTA - Top Georgia U.S. Senate candidates raced to draw battle lines over President Donald Trump's push to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court before Election Day, as Republicans quickly endorsed her appointment and Democrats blasted the rushed process.
Trump's nomination of Barrett, a favorite of many conservative advocacy groups, capped a momentous week in Georgia politics marked by polls showing a deadlocked race and a Friday visit by Trump that underscored the lengths Republicans have gone to play defense in the state.
Barrett's supporters see her nomination as a landmark victory for conservatives, as her confirmation would cement the ideological lean of the court 6-3 in their favor. As an appellate court judge, she's honed a record vociferously praised by anti-abortion activists and gun rights supporters.
Georgia U.S. Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue - each locked in tight reelection campaigns - immediately endorsed her nomination and called for a speedy confirmation vote. So did U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, a four-term GOP congressman challenging fellow Republican Loeffler in a 21-candidate special election.
Though Republicans appear to have the votes to push through the nomination this year, Democrats are hoping to energize their supporters with warnings that her nomination jeopardizes access to health care during the grinding coronavirus pandemic and would lead to new abortion restrictions.
Jon Ossoff, the Democratic nominee to challenge Perdue, drew a direct line to the court's upcoming hearing on a challenge to the Affordable Care Act and a "long-term partisan effort" to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision that established a woman's right to an abortion in America.
"That's what's at stake in the Supreme Court confirmation process," he said in an interview. "Are we going to confirm judges who will uphold the rule of law impartially and in the public interest? Or judges who will pursue a partisan agenda that undermines access to health care for ordinary people?"
Raphael Warnock, the leading Democrat in the race to challenge Loeffler, defined the debate in the same terms, arguing that the winner of the Nov. 3 election should be granted the appointment and the "Senate should have a thoughtful process worthy of the importance of this seat."
'KEEP GOING, KEEP PUSHING'
Even before Barrett was nominated for the seat vacated by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Sept. 18, Republicans promised an accelerated confirmation vote.