Democrats cannot stop Barrett's nomination without a Senate majority, but senators have readied tactics to disrupt and obstruct the process for as long as they can using a wide range of procedural tools.
That could include invoking the so-called "two-hour rule" -- a move that halts all committee business after the Senate has been in session for longer than two hours -- along with delaying a final committee vote by one week, denying a quorum or even impeaching the president, among other tactics.
“Let me be clear: If Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans move forward with this, then nothing is off the table for next year,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer reportedly told members of the Democratic Caucus last Saturday.
But GOP senators have said there will be payback if Democrats try to stall Barrett's nomination.
"There's a price to pay," Senate Majority Whip John Thune, R-S.D., told Politico on Tuesday. "We're prepared for that if they decide they want to use motions to adjourn or try and use the tools at their disposal to keep us here, that's fine. But that keeps them here too and what that means is we'll do more judges and more executive nominations that those guys don't like.”
Representatives for other GOP Senate leaders, including Sens. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Chuck Grassley, R.Iowa, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Some Democrats have already said they will refuse to meet with Barrett, who was nominated by President Trump on Saturday to fill a vacancy on the court in the wake of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death.
They view Republicans' decision to fill the seat before the Nov. 3 presidential election as hypocritical after McConnell in 2016 refused to hold a Senate vote on Merrick Garland, who was nominated to the court by former President Barack Obama after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
McConnell held the seat open until after the election and inauguration of Trump in 2017. Justice Neil Gorsuch was nominated and later confirmed in April 2017.
McConnell and other GOP senators contend this year is unlike 2016 because the same party controls both the White House and the Senate.
Republicans only need a simple majority to confirm Barrett after Republicans eliminated the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees in 2016.
But Democrats are looking to drag out the nomination process to prevent Barrett from being seated on the court before Nov. 10, when justices are slated to begin hearing oral arguments on a White House-backed lawsuit to invalidate the Affordable Care Act, the Obama-era landmark health care law.