Tag: Hearings

‘It’s not the law of Amy’: SCOTUS nominee Barrett faces Dem skepticism on Day 2 of hearings

WASHINGTON — Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett batted away Democrats’ skeptical questions Tuesday on abortion, health care and a possible disputed-election fight over transferring presidential power, insisting in a long and lively confirmation hearing she would bring no personal agenda to the court but decide cases “as they come.”

The 48-year-old appellate court judge declared her conservative views with often colloquial language, but refused many specifics. She declined to say whether she would recuse herself from any election-related cases involving President Donald Trump, who nominated her to fill the seat of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and is pressing to have her confirmed before the the Nov. 3 election.

“Judges can’t 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 told the Senate Judiciary Committee during its second day of hearings.

“It’s not the law of Amy,” she said. “It’s the law of the American people.”

Barrett returned to a Capitol Hill mostly locked down with COVID-19 protocols, the mood quickly shifting to a more confrontational tone from opening day. She was grilled by Democrats strongly opposed to Trump’s nominee yet unable to stop her. Excited by the prospect of a judge aligned with the late Antonin Scalia, Trump’s Republican allies are rushing ahead to install a 6-3 conservative court majority for years to come.

The president seemed pleased with her performance. “I think Amy’s doing incredibly well,” he said at the White House departing for a campaign rally.

Trump has said he wants a justice seated for any disputes arising from his heated election with Democrat Joe Biden, but Barret testified she has not spoken to Trump or his team about election cases. Pressed by panel Democrats, she skipped past questions about ensuring the date of the election or preventing voter intimidation, both set in federal law, and the peaceful transfer of presidential power. She declined to commit to recusing herself from any post-election cases without first consulting the other justices.

“I can’t offer an opinion on recusal without short-circuiting that entire process,” she said.

A frustrated Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the panel, all but implored the nominee to be more specific about how she would handle landmark abortion cases, including Roe v. Wade and the follow-up Pennsylvania case Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which confirmed it in large part.

“It’s distressing not to get a good answer,” Feinstein told the judge.

Barrett was unmoved. “I don’t have an agenda to try to overrule Casey,” she said. “I have an agenda to stick to the rule of law and decide cases as they come.”

She later declined to characterize the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion as a “super-precedent” that must not be overturned.

Democrats had no such reticence.

Let’s not make any mistake about it,” said California Sen. Kamala Harris, the Democratic

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Yes, the Barrett Hearings Are About the Election, Not the Law

(Bloomberg Opinion) — The Amy Coney Barrett nomination hearings have started and guess what? They’re just as much of an election-year circus as everyone expected them to be.

Back in 2016, when Republicans claimed that nominating and confirming a Supreme Court justice during an election year was a violation of the electorate’s right to choose, they were fond of citing something they called the “Biden rule.” In fact, what Joe Biden said when he was Judiciary Committee chair in the summer of 1992 was that if a vacancy were to arise after his June 25 speech, he would urge President George H.W. Bush to wait to nominate a new justice until after the election, and at any rate he would not hold hearings until afterward.

Why? Because “where the nation should be treated to a consideration of constitutional philosophy, all it will get in such circumstances is a partisan bickering and political posturing from both parties and from both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.”

Well, judging from the opening statements in these confirmation hearings, Biden knew what he was talking about.

Indeed, several Democrats have barely mentioned the nomination. They’re talking about the pandemic and how Donald Trump has handled it, and most of all they’re talking about the Affordable Care Act.

There’s a hook to link the nomination to the ACA. The Supreme Court is about to hear a case that could knock out that law, and Democrats have repeatedly invoked Trump’s own claims that a new justice would help overturn Obamacare. But what Democrats seem mostly interested in is using their high-profile time to give campaign speeches about health care — the single policy question that helps Democrats the most with swing voters.

As for the Republicans? They’re going with a campaign talking point accusing Democrats of attacking Judge Barrett for her religion and of being anti-Catholic bigots. That the Democrats are not actually doing so isn’t slowing them down (nor is the fact that Joe Biden and the Democratic House speaker are Catholics).

After all, some Democrats somewhere and some journalists have mentioned her religious beliefs, so the Republicans act as if all Democrats are running an anti-Catholic campaign.(1) Indeed, Missouri Republican Josh Hawley was particularly creative; he came up with the preposterous claim that a mention of Griswold v. Connecticut, a key case in establishing the right to privacy, was an attack on Catholics.

Beyond that, Republicans trotted out their old talking points about judicial activism, and how judges should interpret the law, not make the law. Whatever the merits of these claims decades ago when they were first used, they’re badly dated now.

After all, it is Republicans and conservatives who are seeking to overturn the ACA and many other laws; it is conservative justices who took apart the Voting Rights Act in the Shelby County case. But parties don’t necessarily change their talking points, which their voters recognize and have come to embrace, and Republican voters have traditionally been motivated by arguments about

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