Nominee Barrett stresses impartiality on abortion and Affordable Care Act
By Mo Juenger, World News Editor
The Senate Judiciary Committee began four days of confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett on Monday, questioning her on reproductive rights, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and a peaceful transition of power throughout the week.
The confirmation process has been polarizing, with the majority of Republicans aiming to confirm Barrett before the upcoming presidential election and Democrats striving to wait until after the Nov. 3 decision.
“This is probably not about persuading each other unless something really dramatic happens… All the Republicans will vote yes, all the Democrats will vote no,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), committee chairman, said of the hearings.
Monday’s hearing consisted of ten-minute speeches by each member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and then a short introduction by Barrett.
During her introduction, Barrett anecdotally introduced her family, praised her late mentor former Justice Antonin Scalia and emphasized her position of separating legislative policy and judicial law.
Barrett faced questioning from Republicans and Democrats regarding the ACA and Roe v. Wade during Tuesday’s hearing. In response to Sen. Graham, she declined to answer whether she would recuse herself from an upcoming case discussing the legality of the ACA.
In regards to the Roe v. Wade decision, Barrett cited the legal doctrine of stare decisis, which encourages Supreme Court justices to revisit past SCOTUS decisions.
Barrett noted that she considers herself an originalist and textualist, clarifying that she believes that the Constitution should be interpreted with the meanings that the original writers intended.
“The text is text, and I understand it to have the meaning that it had at the time people ratified it. It does not change over time, and it is not up to me to update it or infuse my own views into it,” Barrett explained.
The nominee also commented on her faith, stressing that it would not impact her judicial decision-making. She emphasized impartiality, an issue that has consistently been criticized by Democratic opponents of her nomination.
“Judges cannot just wake up one day and say, ‘I have an agenda — I like guns, I hate guns, I like abortion, I hate abortion,’ and walk in like a royal queen and impose their will on the world,” Barrett said. “My policy views, my moral convictions, my religious beliefs do not bear on how I decide cases, nor should they.”
In a statement on same-sex marriage that quickly became highly controversial, Barrett used the term “sexual preferences” instead of the widely accepted term “sexual orientation.” Members and allies of the LGBT+ community use the latter because they believe that sexual orientation is an immutable characteristic.
After further questioning on the matter from Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Barrett declined to say whether she believes sexual orientation to be immutable.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Sen. Graham announced early on Wednesday the individuals they planned to call as witnesses on Thursday, the final day of Barrett’s hearings.
Democrats plan to have doctors, patients and civil rights leaders to testify on issues including reproductive rights, the ACA and voting rights. Republicans plan to have judges, lawyers and past clerks of Barrett’s to testify regarding her competence and impartiality.
Barrett’s supporters and opponents both concluded on Wednesday that she would likely be confirmed as a justice, given the Senate’s Republican majority and Barett’s widespread conservative support.
If the majority votes for Barrett to be confirmed, President Donald Trump will be permitted to formally appoint the candidate. She would then take a constitutional oath and begin making decisions.
Photo courtesy of The White House via creativecommons.org
Amy Coney Barett was questioned throughout the week by the bipartisan Senate Judiciary Committee. Her confirmation hearings will end this Thursday and many expect the Republican-majority Senate to approve her.
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