Sen. Kamala Harris condemned the confirmation process for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett as both "illegitimate" and "reckless," citing the more than 9 million Americans who have already voted in the 2020 election and the coronavirus risks that have prompted the Senate to suspend all other floor business.

Why it matters: Harris, who is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee in addition to being Joe Biden's running mate, encapsulated the Democrats' strategic message for the confirmation fight on the first day of Barrett's hearings on Monday.

  • She accused Republicans of "jamming President Trump's nominee through the Senate" in order to strip away health care protections under the Affordable Care Act. The Supreme Court is hearing a lawsuit seeking to invalidate the ACA on Nov. 10.
  • "These are not abstract issues. We need to be clear about how overturning the Affordable Care Act will impact the people we all represent," Harris said via online stream, choosing to attend the hearing remotely after two members of the committee tested positive for COVID-19 last week.

The big picture: Democrats realize they have little hope of stopping Barrett's confirmation, so they are instead seeking to use the hearings as an opportunity to mobilize voters on key issues, like health care and voting rights.

  • But they also recognize they risk energizing Republicans if they go too far in their attacks, and they're hoping to minimize self-damage when pressing her on topics about abortion and her deeply conservative religious views.
  • A number of Democrats brought posters of their constituents who suffer from pre-existing conditions, for which the Affordable Care Act protects coverage.

The other side: Judiciary Republicans have largely used their opening statements to praise Barrett's legal record and personal story as a mother of seven. Some have condemned Democrats over perceived attacks on Barrett's religious background, though no Democrat has explicitly brought up her Catholic faith during the hearing.

The bottom line: “This is probably not about persuading each other unless something really dramatic happens,” Senate Judiciary Chair Lindsey Graham acknowledged. “All the Republicans will vote yes; all the Democrats will vote no.”

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Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Republicans and Dems react to Coney Barrett's Supreme Court confirmation

President Trump stands with Judge Amy Coney Barrett after she took the constitutional oath to serve as a Supreme Court justice during a White House ceremony Monday night .Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

President Trump said Judge Amy Coney Barrett's Senate confirmation to the Supreme Court and her subsequent taking of the constitutional oath Monday was a "momentous day," as she she vowed to serve "without any fear or favour."

Of note: As Republicans applauded the action, Democratic leaders warned of consequences to the rush to replace the late liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg with a conservative so close to the election, as progressives led calls to expand the court.

Amy Coney Barrett's immediate impact

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

In her first week on the job, Amy Coney Barrett may be deciding which votes to count in the presidential election. By her third week, she’ll be deciding the fate of the Affordable Care Act.

Where it stands: The Senate votes on Barrett’s nomination tomorrow. If she’s confirmed, Chief Justice John Roberts is expected to swear her in at the Supreme Court within hours, an administration official tells Axios.

Schumer: Coney Barrett vote "one of the darkest days" in Senate history

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Monday "will go down as one of the darkest days" in Senate history, moments before the chamber voted 52-48 to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.

The bottom line: Schumer said his Republican colleagues "decided to thwart the will of the people" by holding the vote eight days ahead of the presidential election, despite opposing President Obama's nominee because it was an election year.