WASHINGTON (CBS News) — The Senate Judiciary Committee opened the first day of hearings to consider the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, with senators trading accusations about her qualifications and the prospect of confirming her just weeks before the election.

Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett at her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 12, 2020. (Getty Images)

The ongoing pandemic loomed over the proceedings, which are being held despite a recent coronavirus outbreak among GOP senators who attended a White House event that has been linked to dozens of infections. Several lawmakers, including vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris and Republican Thom Tillis, who recently tested positive, appeared remotely to deliver their opening statements.

Barrett, who would be the third Supreme Court justice nominated by President Trump, sat stoically for hours as the 22 senators on the committee were each given 10 minutes to make remarks.

Republicans defended their decision to move forward with Barrett’s nomination and pursue a vote to confirm her before the election. Senator Lindsey Graham, the committee’s chairman, said the Senate “is doing its duty constitutionally.” The GOP lawmakers also defended Barrett, who is Catholic, from perceived attacks on her faith, insisting her religious beliefs should be off limits, although no Democrats mentioned her faith in Monday’s hearing.

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