What’s the story?
- The Senate Judiciary Committee completed its first round of questions and answers with Judge Amy Coney Barrett in her Supreme Court confirmation hearings on Tuesday after an 11 and a half hour session. The committee will reconvene on Wednesday at 9am for round two.
- Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) asked Judge Barrett to explain in plain English what her judicial philosophy, known as originalism, means and the nominee replied:
“In English, that means that I interpret the Constitution as a law, that I interpret its text as text, and I understand it to have the meaning that it had at the time people ratified it. That meaning doesn’t change over time, and it’s not up to me to update it or infuse my own policy views into it.”
- Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) asked Barrett if she agreed with the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s view that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided. Barrett declined to answer, invoking the Ginsburg rule that she should not weigh in on a case that may come before the Court:
“If I express a view on a precedent one way or another, whether I say I love it or I hate it, it signals to litigants that I might tilt one way or another in a pending case.”
- Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) asked Barrett if she made any pre-commitments about how she would rule on certain cases before the Court if she is confirmed, and Judge Barrett said she has not because doing so would violate the judicial code of conduct:
“I have had no conversation with the president or any of his staff on how I might rule on that case. It would be a gross violation of judicial independence for me to make any such commitment or for me to be asked about that case and how I would rule. I also think it would be a complete violation of the independence of the judiciary for anyone to put a justice on the Court as a means of obtaining a particular result. And that’s why, as I was mentioning, I think, to Senator Grassley, that the questionnaire that I fill out for this committee makes clear that I have made no pre-commitments to anyone on how I would decide a case.”
- Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) asked if Barrett would recuse herself from any election related cases. Barrett said she would go through the process of evaluating whether she should recuse herself but did not commit to doing so:
“I certainly hope that all members of the committee have more confidence in my integrity than to think that I would allow myself to be used as a pawn to decide this election for the American people… If I were confirmed, and if an election dispute arises, both of which are ifs, I would very seriously undertake that process and I would consider every relevant factor. I can’t commit to you right now, for the reasons that we’ve talked about before. But I do assure you of my integrity, and I do assure you that I would take that question very seriously.”
- Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) asked Barrett why she would accept the nomination despite knowing the scrutiny she and her family would be subjected to. Judge Barrett responded:
“We knew that our lives would be combed over for any negative detail. We knew our faith would be caricatured. We knew our family would be attacked. So we had to decide whether those difficulties would be worth it, because what sane person would go through that if there wasn’t a benefit on the other side. The benefit, I think, is that I’m committed to the rule of law and the role of the Supreme Court in dispensing equal justice for all. I’m not the only person who could do this job, but I was asked and it would be difficult for anyone, so why should I say someone else should do the difficulty. If the difficulty is the only reason to say no, I should serve my country, and my family is all in on that because they share my belief in the rule of law.”
- Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) asked Barrett if she would like to respond to attacks about her family’s two children who were adopted from Haiti and are Black, after Boston University Professor Ibrahim Kendi implied the Barretts may be “using them as props” while “cutting the biological parents of these children out of the picture of humanity” like “white colonizers” of the past. Barrett responded:
“Senator Kennedy, it was the risk of people saying things like that when I told Chairman Graham that my husband and I had to really weigh the costs of this, it was saying deeply offensive and hurtful things, things that are not only hurtful to me but are hurtful to my children, who are my children, who we love, and who we brought home and made part of our family. And accusations like that are cruel.”
- One of the more notable moments of levity in the hearing came when Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) asked if she could show the room what she was using for notes:
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— Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: The White House via Flickr / Public Domain)
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