Donald Trump’s third Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, commences day three of her Senate confirmation hearings on Oct. 14, in the midst of one of the most contentious presidential elections of the decade. Many progressives are concerned the conservative nominee, who was tapped to replace liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, may contribute to overturning landmark legislation on health care and reproductive rights if confirmed to the Supreme Court. During her questioning, Sen. Kamala Harris grilled Amy Coney Barrett on her conservative record with Trump — and viewers across the nation were not impressed with Barrett’s responses.
Barrett has been expected to become Trump’s Supreme Court Nominee as far back as 2017. In fact, according to a 2019 Axios report, Trump was quoted saying that he was “saving [Barrett] for Ginsburg,” suggesting his intentions to nominate her as a replacement for the progressive justice. Before being elected, Trump made a decisive statement in 2015 via Twitter: "If I win the presidency, my judicial appointments will do the right thing," he wrote, "unlike Bush’s appointee John Roberts on ObamaCare." In 2012, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joined the liberal majority to uphold the ACA in the landmark court case National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius. Just five months before Trump nominated her to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2017, Barrett published an essay for Notre Dame Law School that criticized Roberts for upholding the ACA, stating that he "pushed the Affordable Care Act beyond its plausible meaning to save the statute."
Throughout her legal career, Barrett has been extremely vocal about her Catholic faith, and has consistently taken conservative stances on issues such as immigration, gun control, LGBTQ+ rights, and reproductive rights during her time at the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. In light of Barrett’s conservative record, Harris questioned her intentions as a potential Supreme Court justice. After reminding Barrett of Trump’s 2015 tweets, Harris asked, "prior to your nomination, were you aware of President Trump’s statements committing to nominate judges who would strike down the Affordable Care Act?" Barrett’s response was less than direct. "I can’t definitively give you a yes or no answer," Barrett stated. "I don’t recall."
Many found Barrett’s response hard to believe.
Harris also pulled receipts on Barrett’s conservative record in opposing reproductive rights — particularly concerning Roe v. Wade. "[Justice Ginsburg] freely discussed how she viewed a woman’s right to choose," Harris stated, recalling Ginsburg’s pro-choice stance on abortion. "Judge Barrett, your record clearly shows you hold a different view … I would suggest that we not pretend that we don’t know how this nominee views a women’s right to choose or make her own health care decisions," Harris added.
During the hearing, Harris pointed to Barrett’s extensive history of taking stringent right-wing stances on many issues. In 2006, Barrett signed her name to an anti-choice advertisement that called for "an end to the barbaric legacy of Roe v. Wade." She signed a similar advertisement in 2013, which described the court case as "infamous" as it expressed decisive anti-choice sentiments. Additionally, Barrett authored an article in 2013 that featured a list of well-settled cases — cases that Barrett described as being so well settled that "no justice would overrule, even if she disagrees." Roe v. Wade was noticeably absent from that list of well-settled cases, suggesting that it was susceptible to being overturned. In the hearing, Barrett declined to say whether Roe was a case which should not be overturned, per the Associated Press.
During her opening statement on Oct 12., Harris criticized Senate Republicans for what she called their irresponsibility in pushing Barrett’s hearing forward, stating that "President Trump is attempting to roll back America’s rights for decades to come" by trying to replace Ginsburg with conservative nominee Barrett. The senator delivered an additional admonishment, stating that Senate Republicans "had not lifted a finger for 150 days" to provide struggling Americans with a much-needed coronavirus relief bill. According to Pew Research, over 52% of low-income Americans say that someone in their household has either lost a job or taken a pay cut because of the pandemic.
Senate Republicans are reportedly hoping to vote on Barrett’s confirmation before the end of October.
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