Judge Amy Coney Barrett, Senators Offer Opening Statements on Day One of Her Supreme Court Confirmation Hearings
How do you feel about the opening statements in Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearing?
by SCOTUS Nominee Tracker | 10.12.20
What’s the story?
- The Senate Judiciary Committee completed the first day of Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearings to the Supreme Court, with committee members and the nominee offering opening statements during the roughly five hour hearing.
- Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s remarks came after she was introduced by her mentor, Notre Dame Law School Professor Patricia O’Hara, and her home state senators ― Sens. Todd Young (R-IN) and Mike Braun (R-IN). Barrett’s opening statement was nearly 13 minutes long, and here are some key excerpts:
“Courts have a vital responsibility to enforce the rule of law, which is critical to a free society. But courts are not designed to solve every problem or right every wrong in our public life. The policy decisions and value judgments of government must be made by the political branches elected by and accountable to the People. The public should not expect the courts to do so, and courts should not try.
That is the approach I have strived to follow as a judge on the Seventh Circuit. In every case, I have carefully considered the arguments presented by the parties, discussed the issues with my colleagues on the court, and done my utmost to reach the result required by law, whatever my own preferences might be...
When I write an opinion resolving a case, I read every word from the perspective of the losing party. I ask myself how would I view the decision if one of my children was the party I was ruling against: Even though I would not like the result, would I understand that the decision was fairly reasoned and grounded in the law? That is the standard I set for myself in every case, and it is the standard I will follow as long as I am a judge on any court…
I come before this Committee with humility about the responsibility I have been asked to undertake, and with appreciation for those who came before me. I was nine years old when Sandra Day O’Connor became the first woman to sit in this seat. She was a model of grace and dignity throughout her distinguished tenure on the Court. When I was 21 years old and just beginning my career, Ruth Bader Ginsburg sat in this seat. She told the Committee, “What has become of me could only happen in America.” I have been nominated to fill Justice Ginsburg’s seat, but no one will ever take her place. I will be forever grateful for the path she marked and the life she led.”
- Democrats used their opening statements to accuse Republicans of hypocrisy for rushing through the nomination ahead of the election after they declined to consider Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court in 2016. They also expressed concern that Barrett’s nomination could result in rulings that weaken the Affordable Care Act or other civil rights protections. Democrats also said the Senate should be considering coronavirus relief legislation instead of considering Barrett’s nomination ahead of the election, without saying whether they would support a bipartisan compromise given that all but three Democrats voted to block a relief bill in September.
- Republicans said Barrett is a highly qualified jurist who will decide cases on their merits without political or policy bias. They countered that the so-called “McConnell rule” was about not proceeding with nominations at times when different parties control the presidency and the Senate majority. GOP senators warned their Democratic colleagues that critiquing or questioning Barrett for her Catholic faith, like when Ranking Member Diane Feinstein (D-CA) told Barrett “dogma lives loudly within you” during her circuit court confirmation hearing, would be an unconstitutional religious test.
- You can watch the roughly 10 minute opening statement offered by each of the 22 members of the Senate Judiciary Committee by clicking through the links below.
- Republican Senators: Chairman Lindsey Graham (SC); Chuck Grassley (IA); John Cornyn (TX); Mike Lee (UT); Ted Cruz (TX); Ben Sasse (NE); Josh Hawley (MO); Thom Tillis (NC); Joni Ernst (IA); Mike Crapo (ID); John Kennedy (LA); and Marsha Blackburn (TN).
- Democratic Senators: Ranking Member Diane Feinstein (CA); Patrick Leahy (VT); Dick Durbin (IL); Sheldon Whitehouse (RI); Amy Klobuchar (MN); Chris Coons (DE); Richard Blumenthal (CT); Mazie Hirono (HI); Cory Booker (NJ); and Kamala Harris (CA), the Democratic vice presidential nominee.
What’s next in the confirmation hearings?
- Tuesday and Wednesday will feature two question and answer rounds between committee members and Barrett. Each senator will have up to 30 minutes for questions during the first round, and up to 20 minutes for the second round, so hearings on both days are expected to be lengthy.
- Thursday will feature testimony from an external panel of judicial experts selected by bipartisan members of the committee.
- Once the confirmation hearing concludes on Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to pivot into an executive session before it adjourns for the day, allowing it to consider nominations before it.
- Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court will likely be included on the agenda for the executive session, but the committee would hold over her nomination by delaying a vote to report it to the floor for one week per its usual procedures. That means the Senate Judiciary Committee would meet again to vote on advancing Barrett’s nomination to the full Senate on Thursday, October 22nd.
- WATCH: Day 1 of Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court Confirmation Hearings
- Examining Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s Judicial History on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals
- President Trump Nominates Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court
- What Happened When Supreme Court Vacancies Occurred Ahead of Past Presidential Elections?
Follow the latest coverage of Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court here.
— Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: The White House via Flickr / Public Domain)
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