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Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett held her ground against an onslaught of negative scrutiny by Democrats as her second day of confirmation hearings got underway.
The federal appellate judge, nominated by President Donald Trump to fill the seat vacated by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, was put under the microscope Tuesday as the confirmation process moved past opening remarks to allow Barrett to respond to questions. The conservative judge faced off with Sen. Feinstein over several issues and repeatedly refused to prejudge cases.
During her series of questions, Feinstein addressed the president’s threats to delay the election and asked Barrett if the Constitution gives him the authority to do so.
“If that question ever came before me, I would need to hear arguments from the litigants, and read briefs and consult with my law clerks, and talk to my colleagues, and go through the opinion-writing process,” Barrett responded.
“So, you know, if I give off-the-cuff answers, then I would be basically a legal pundit,” she added. “And I don’t think we want judges to be legal pundits. I think we want judges to approach cases properly and with an open mind.”
Feinstein made the troubling claim that her decision on Barrett’s confirmation could be determined by the nominee’s vote on a pending case.
The California Democrat, the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, warned on Monday that Barrett’s nomination would negatively impact health coverage for those currently under the Affordable Care Act. On Tuesday, she addressed the issue again in questioning Barrett who essentially schooled Feinstein on “policy decisions” that are supposed to be made by Congress, not the Supreme Court.
Feinstein continued to pepper the nominee with hypothetical cases and questions that Barrett ultimately would not answer, giving the left more fodder for finger-pointing rants about how she supposedly dodged the questions. The senator asked at one point if Barrett thought the landmark Roe v. Wade case was “wrongly decided.”
“Senator, I do want to be forthright and answer every question, so far as I can. I think on that question, I’m going to invoke Justice Kagan’s description which I think is perfectly put. When she was in her confirmation hearing, she said that she was not going to grade precedent or give it a thumbs up or thumbs down,” Barrett replied, referring to Kagen’s decision which was backed by Democrats at the time.
“And I think in an area where precedent continues to be pressed and litigated, as is true of Casey, it would be particularly — it would actually be wrong and a violation of the canons for me to do that as a sitting judge. So 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,” she added.
The response obviously annoyed Feinstein.
“So on something that is really a major cause with major effect on over half of the population of this country who are women after all, it is distressing not to get a straight answer,” the Democrat said. “So let me try again. Do you agree with Justice Scalia’s view that Roe was wrongly decided?”
“Senator, I completely understand why you are asking the question, but again, I can’t pre-commit or say, ‘Yes, I’m going in with some agenda,’ because I am not,” Barrett asserted. “I don’t have any agenda. I have no agenda to try to overrule Casey. I have an agenda to stick to the rule of law and decide cases as they come.”
Former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich noted in an interview with Fox News on Tuesday that Democrats will try and fail to appear “dignified” in questions posed to Barrett. Though their attempts will be to come off on an intellectual level, “she is probably smarter than you,” Gingrich told “Fox & Friends.”
“You look at her track record and that’s the point that Ted Cruz made. None of us graduated first,” he added. “I think if she has to, she’ll more than hold her own.”
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