Tag: questions

Amy Coney Barrett dodges abortion, healthcare and election law questions

On the second day of hearings before the Senate judiciary committee, Democrats pressed supreme court nominee Amy Coney Barrett on healthcare, election law and abortion rights – and met with little success.



a person standing in front of a counter: Photograph: Demetrius Freeman/EPA


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Photograph: Demetrius Freeman/EPA

Related: ‘Slayer Pete’: Buttigieg emerges as Biden’s unlikely Fox News fighter

Donald Trump’s third nominee for the highest court dodged questions on how she might rule on a challenge to the Affordable Care Act (ACA); if she would recuse herself from any lawsuit about the presidential election; and whether she would vote to overturn the landmark 1973 ruling Roe v Wade, which made abortion legal.



a man standing in front of a counter: Supreme court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett testifies during the Senate judiciary committee hearing on Tuesday.


© Photograph: Demetrius Freeman/EPA
Supreme court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett testifies during the Senate judiciary committee hearing on Tuesday.

Barrett argued that she was not a pundit, citing remarks by Justice Elena Kagan and the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg in saying that outside of reviewing a specific case, it was not her place to offer a position.

“No hints, no previews, no forecasts,” Barrett quoted Ginsburg as saying, after the California senator Dianne Feinstein questioned her about how she might rule in any case challenging the legality of abortion.

Barrett is a devout Catholic whose previous statements and affiliations have been closely examined by Democrats and the media. Trump has said overturning Roe v Wade would be “possible” with Barrett on the court.

At another point in Tuesday’s hearing, Barrett cited Kagan in saying she would not give “a thumbs up or thumbs down” on any hypothetical ruling.

Most of the questioning from Democrats centered on the ACA, known popularly as Obamacare, and how a ruling by the high court overturning the law would take away healthcare from millions of Americans. A hearing is due a week after election day. Democrats see protecting the ACA as a productive electoral tactic, having focused on it in the 2018 midterms, when they took back the House.

Barrett said she was not hostile to the ACA, or indeed abortion or gay rights, another area worrying progressives as the court seems set to tilt to a 6-3 conservative majority. Barrett said she was simply focused on upholding the law.

“I am not hostile to the ACA,” Barrett said. “I apply the law, I follow the law. You make the policy.”

Video: Barrett refuses to address whether Roe v. Wade should be overturned, despite prodding from Sen. Feinstein (CNBC)

Barrett refuses to address whether Roe v. Wade should be overturned, despite prodding from Sen. Feinstein

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Asked about gay rights, Barrett said: “I would not discriminate on the basis of sexual preference.”

Her choice of words conspicuously suggested that to her, sexuality is a choice. Amid scrutiny of Barrett’s past, meanwhile, it has been reported that she was a trustee at a school whose handbook included stated opposition to same-sex marriage

Republican senators also questioned Barrett on healthcare, the Iowa senator Chuck Grassley asking if she had been asked during the nomination process if

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Questions raised about conflicts of interest around Biden son-in-law

Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenMcConnell challenger dodges court packing question ‘Hamilton’ cast to reunite for Biden fundraiser Trump relishes return to large rallies following COVID-19 diagnosis MORE’s son-in-law, Howard Krein, has continued his work at an investment firm overseeing health care solutions to COVID-19 while also advising the Biden campaign on the pandemic, sparking potential conflict-of-interest concerns, according to Politico

In March, StartUp Health, where Krein serves as chief medical officer, announced a new initiative to invest in entrepreneurs with various “solutions for mitigating, managing, or treating coronavirus or future pandemics.”

A month later, StartUp Health announced it would be investing $1 million across 10 different startups with potential public health solutions to the coronavirus. 

This came around the same time that Bloomberg and The New York Times both reported Krein among those taking part in daily Biden campaign briefing calls on health policy. 

As noted by Politico on Tuesday, Krein’s involvement in funding for specific coronavirus-centered projects could present a conflict of interest for Biden should he win the presidency in November. 

Politico hypothesized that the U.S. government could spend billions of dollars on nationwide coronavirus responses in 2021, with tens of billions of dollars already spent on COVID-19 testing and vaccine research. 

Since its founding in 2011, StartUp Health had close ties with the Obama administration, which described Krein at the time as a White House adviser, according to Politico. 

Krein reportedly began dating Biden’s daughter, Ashley, in 2010, with the two officially marrying in 2012. 

When contacted by The Hill, a Biden official said that Krein does not serve as a formal adviser to the campaign, although he has occasionally provides his perspective as a health care official working to combat COVID-19 on the front lines. 

However, Avik Roy, founder of investment firm Roy Healthcare Research and a former adviser to the presidential campaigns of Sens. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyThe Hill’s Campaign Report: Barrett hearings take center stage | Trump returns to campaign trail Biden: Faith shouldn’t be a subject in Barrett confirmation fight Nebraska district could prove pivotal for Biden in November MORE (R-Utah) and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioTrump Jr. returning to campaign trail after quarantining EXCLUSIVE: Intelligence chief briefed lawmakers of foreign influence threats to Congress Trump Jr., UFC star launch anti-socialism bus tour through South Florida MORE (R-Fla.), told Politico that he had “little doubt” that Krein’s close relationship with Biden, “particularly if he becomes president, would attract the interest of some investors.”

Laura Huang, a professor at Harvard Business School who studies investment processes, told Politico that even a public perception of bias could send a certain message to investors. 

“Sometimes, the perception is all you need. Signaling is very important for startups and investors alike, and one signal is high-profile individuals who can help provide access,” she said. 

Krein’s connection with Biden had been reported earlier this year by conservative commentator and Breitbart News contributor Peter Schweizer in his book “Profiles in Corruption: Abuse of

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Good judges see questions of law. ACB’s Democratic critics see only policy outcomes.

Sometimes Democratic senators tell on themselves. In today’s Amy Coney Barrett nomination hearing, many Democrats made it clear that they see the role of judges as passing or killing policy based on whether they like or dislike the policy.



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That’s not what judges should do, and nobody has presented an ounce of evidence Barrett has or would. But Democrats, by basing their entire argument against Barrett on the Affordable Care Act, basically admitted that their vision of a judge is as a superlegislator.

Democratic senator after Democratic senator appeared with a picture of a constituent and a story of how that constituent benefited from Obamacare. This is the core of their planned partisan attack against Barrett.

The assertion: Barrett would strike down the Affordable Care Act if confirmed to the Supreme Court. This is very unlikely, as the ACA case on the docket is unlikely to overturn Obamacare. See my colleague Phil Klein’s explanation.

Where do they get this idea? Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden falsely states, “This nominee has said she wants to get rid of the Affordable Care Act.” That’s simply not true. Biden either made that up or misspoke badly and didn’t correct himself. Democrats might just view this as a useful message.

What do the Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats rely on for evidence? They point to a law review article in which Barrett expressed a mainstream opinion that does not bear on the current case.

Barrett criticized Chief Justice John Roberts in his case upholding Obamacare’s requirement that everyone buy health insurance. Here’s what Barrett wrote:

“Chief Justice Roberts pushed the Affordable Care Act beyond its plausible meaning to save the statute. He construed the penalty imposed on those without health insurance as a tax, which permitted him to sustain the statute as a valid exercise of the taxing power; had he treated the payment as the statute did—as a penalty—he would have had to invalidate the statute as lying beyond Congress’s commerce power.”

She’s exactly right. Barrett knows that Roberts couldn’t stomach the Democrats’ argument — that a person not buying health insurance, which can’t be purchased across state lines anyway, counts as interstate commerce. She also says that the law didn’t create a “tax,” as Roberts asserts, but it created a mandate with a penalty.

It takes a creative or activist judge to swallow either (a) the Democrats’ argument that intrastate non-commerce is interstate or (b) Roberts’s argument that the mandate isn’t a mandate, but merely its penalty is a tax.

As Sen. Chuck Grassley said in his opening statement: “Even the Democrats who forced it through Congress insisted it wasn’t a tax. Jeffrey Toobin wrote that Roberts’s tax argument was ‘not a persuasive one.’ President Obama even said, ‘I absolutely reject that notion that it was a tax.’”

Barrett was taking the same side as Obama there.

More importantly, what bearing does this have on the current ACA case? None. It’s just that for Judiciary Democrats, there

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Microsoft Says U.S. Government Questions Its Pledge to Hire More Black Employees

Microsoft Corp.


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said it was contacted last week by the federal government to see whether its pledge to hire more Black employees constitutes unlawful discrimination by a government contractor.

The software company said the agency overseeing federal contractors is questioning whether its initiative to double the number of Black managers and leaders in its U.S. workforce by 2025 violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

“We have every confidence that Microsoft’s diversity initiative complies fully with all U.S. employment laws,” Microsoft general counsel Dev Stahlkopf said in a blog post.

Black employees represent about 4.5% of Microsoft’s U.S. workforce and less than 3% of senior roles, according to the company’s 2019 diversity report. That compares with about 13% of the U.S. population.

Microsoft made the pledge to improve its diversity ranks in June, as well as a commitment to invest an additional $150 million over five years in diversity and inclusion programs. After the killing of George Floyd in May, it was one of several companies, from Germany’s

Adidas AG

to Silicon Valley’s

Facebook Inc.,

to make pledges to hire more Black employees.

In its letter to Microsoft, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs suggested this initiative “appears to imply that employment action may be taken on the basis of race.” The letter asked Microsoft to prove the actions it is taking aren’t illegal race-based decisions, according to the software maker.

The OFCCP is an agency within the U.S. Department of Labor that oversees companies like Microsoft that are federal contractors. A spokesman for the Labor Department didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Last month, the Trump administration issued an executive order that prohibits companies with federal contracts from participating in training that “promotes race or sex-stereotyping or scapegoating.” The OFCCP has created a hotline for workers to report their companies for potentially violating the order.

In June, Microsoft also said it would step up efforts to fight racial disparities outside the company, including setting up a $50 million investment fund focused on supporting Black-owned small businesses. The company pledged to use data and technology to identify racial disparities in the criminal-justice system and improve policing.

“We believe it is a core part of our mission to make our company, our community and our country a place where people of diverse views and backgrounds are welcomed and can thrive,” Microsoft said in its blog post.

Write to Khadeeja Safdar at [email protected]

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Trump’s doctor leans on health privacy law to duck questions

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s doctor leaned on a federal health privacy law Monday to duck certain questions about the president’s treatment for COVID-19, while readily sharing other details of his patient’s condition.



Dr. Sean Conley, physician to President Donald Trump, center, and other doctors, walk out to talk with reporters at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, in Bethesda, Md. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)


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Dr. Sean Conley, physician to President Donald Trump, center, and other doctors, walk out to talk with reporters at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, in Bethesda, Md. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

But a leading expert on the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act said a more likely reason for Dr. Sean Conley’s selective disclosures appears to be Trump’s comfort level in fully revealing his medical information.



Dr. Sean Conley, physician to President Donald Trump, talks with reporters at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, in Bethesda, Md. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)


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Dr. Sean Conley, physician to President Donald Trump, talks with reporters at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, in Bethesda, Md. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

“That’s a little head-scratcher,” said Deven McGraw, a former career government lawyer who oversaw enforcement of the 1996 medical privacy statute. “It’s quite possible the doctor sat down with the president and asked which information is OK to disclose.”

At a press briefing at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Conley, the White House physician, reported the president’s blood pressure — a little high at 134/78 — and respiration and heart rates, which were both in the normal ranges.



White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, seated left, and Dr. Sean Conley, physician to President Donald Trump, listen as doctors talk with reporters at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, in Bethesda, Md. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)


© Provided by Associated Press
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, seated left, and Dr. Sean Conley, physician to President Donald Trump, listen as doctors talk with reporters at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, in Bethesda, Md. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

But when reporters pressed for details on the results of lung scans and when Trump had last tested negative for COVID-19, the doctor demurred, citing HIPAA, as the law is commonly known.

“There is no special protection for lung scans,” McGraw pointed out.

“It really is what the president authorizes to be disclosed,” she explained. “So I am going to have to assume there was a judgment call on what information the president was comfortable releasing to the public.”

The selective disclosure raised more questions about what the president’s doctors aren’t telling the public. Trump returned to the White House later Monday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said it’s “disconcerting” that information coming from Trump’s physicians “must be approved by the president.”

Pronounced “hippah,” the law essentially prohibits disclosure of a person’s medical information without their consent. Many people hear about HIPAA when they call the hospital seeking information about the condition of a relative and they’re told they can’t have it because of the law.

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Trump’s Doctor Leans on Health Privacy Law to Duck Questions | Health News

By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s doctor leaned on a federal health privacy law Monday to duck certain questions about the president’s treatment for COVID-19, while readily sharing other details of his patient’s condition.

But a leading expert on the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act said a more likely reason for Dr. Sean Conley’s selective disclosures appears to be Trump’s comfort level in fully revealing his medical information.

“That’s a little head-scratcher,” said Deven McGraw, a former career government lawyer who oversaw enforcement of the 1996 medical privacy statute. “It’s quite possible the doctor sat down with the president and asked which information is OK to disclose.”

At a press briefing at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Conley, the White House physician, reported the president’s blood pressure — a little high at 134/78 — and respiration and heart rates, which were both in the normal ranges.

But when reporters pressed for details on the results of lung scans and when Trump had last tested negative for COVID-19, the doctor demurred, citing HIPAA, as the law is commonly known.

“There is no special protection for lung scans,” McGraw pointed out.

“It really is what the president authorizes to be disclosed,” she explained. “So I am going to have to assume there was a judgment call on what information the president was comfortable releasing to the public.”

The selective disclosure raised more questions about what the president’s doctors aren’t telling the public. Trump returned to the White House later Monday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said it’s “disconcerting” that information coming from Trump’s physicians “must be approved by the president.”

Pronounced “hippah,” the law essentially prohibits disclosure of a person’s medical information without their consent. Many people hear about HIPAA when they call the hospital seeking information about the condition of a relative and they’re told they can’t have it because of the law.

”HIPAA kinda precludes me from going into too much depth in things that, you know, I’m not (at) liberty or he doesn’t wish to be discussed,” said Conley, who holds the rank of Navy commander.

McGraw said there’s a question about whether the White House physician may even be covered by HIPAA. The law is written to apply to doctors and entities that bill for insurance coverage.

That said, a president, like any other individual, has the right to control personal medical information, said Iliana Peters, who also served as a career lawyer overseeing HIPAA enforcement at the Department of Health and Human Services.

“As the person who is the subject of the records, (Trump) owns the right to privacy over his medical record and he gets to decide how that information is shared certainly with the public, and certainly wit the media,” said Peters. “That is the case with any one of us as a patient.”

Peters said “there may be multiple things going on here in that certain disclosures have been authorized and others haven’t.”

Speaking on MSNBC, Pelosi argued

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Mother-in-law’s questions go too deep

Amy Dickinson
Published 12:00 a.m. ET Oct. 2, 2020

Dear Amy: My mother-in-law only reaches out to me when she is concerned about her son. He’s an only child and she constantly worries about him.

She calls or texts me to ask how he’s eating, exercising, his latest bowel movements … you get my drift.

I want to think the best of her. I believe she is trying to be a good mom by being involved. However, it also makes me feel like she sees me as her spy or a vehicle to “fix” whatever is worrying her about him.

He’s not eating healthy? It’s up to me to force-feed him his greens.

He’s not exercising enough? I should dance sexy for him (her words, not mine) to get him moving.

I’m not my husband’s “fixer.” He’s a grown man and it’s up to him to eat and exercise well.

It’s also a little hurtful that she takes no interest in me other than a, “Hello, how’ve you been? Now, let’s talk about my son.”

I know it’s wrong, but lately I have been ignoring the inappropriate suggestions and delaying answering her other messages. How should I handle this?

– Not My Husband’s Fixer

Dear Not: Is your husband in a coma? Has he fallen down a well?

I ask because, unless he is voiceless, he should be talking to his mother about his toileting habits.

I assume your husband is ducking his mother because he is exhausted by these intrusive questions. He’s likely dealt with them for a lifetime. If you asked him, “How do you cope with these questions?” He’d probably answer, “I ignore her, or tell her to talk to you.”

This is a boundary issue. If your husband is in fact alive and nearby, you can tell your mother-in-law, “He’s right here. Let me hand him the phone,” or “I’ll make sure he knows you called,” or simply, “That’s pretty personal. You should ask him!”

Also say, “I know how much you care about how ‘Paul’ is doing, but he’s basically great. He and I are happy, but I’m not really in charge of him.” Then you pivot to ask her a question about how she is and what she is up to. And yes, ignore or delay answering texts you don’t want to answer.

Your mother-in-law will always care more for her son than for you. It’s doubtful that she will ever develop a sincere interest in your life. She may always be an annoying nudge. Be kind, be firm, and practice establishing healthy boundaries, and you won’t dread hearing from her quite so much.

Dear Amy: Our oldest daughter and her fianc were planning a wedding for this summer. Due to the pandemic they have decided to reschedule the ceremony for next summer. However, in actuality they were married over a year ago in secret, so their “wedding” will be held almost three years after being married in the first place.

The discussion now

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Ask Amy: Mother-in-law’s questions go too deep

He’s not eating healthy? It’s up to me to force-feed him his greens.

He’s not exercising enough? I should dance sexy for him (her words, not mine) to get him moving.

I’m not my husband’s “fixer.” He’s a grown man, and it’s up to him to eat and exercise well.

It’s also a little hurtful that she takes no interest in me other than a, “Hello, how have you been? Now, let’s talk about my son.”

I know it’s wrong, but lately I have been ignoring the inappropriate suggestions and delaying answering her other messages. How should I handle this?

— Not My Husband’s Fixer

Not My Husband’s Fixer: Is your husband in a coma? Has he fallen down a well?

I ask because, unless he is voiceless, he should be talking to his mother about his toileting habits.

I assume your husband is ducking his mother because he is exhausted by these intrusive questions. He’s likely dealt with them for a lifetime. If you asked him, “How do you cope with these questions?” He’d probably answer, “I ignore her, or tell her to talk to you.”

This is a boundary issue. If your husband is in fact alive and nearby, you can tell your mother-in-law, “He’s right here. Let me hand him the phone,” or “I’ll make sure he knows you called,” or simply, “That’s pretty personal. You should ask him!”

Also say, “I know how much you care about how ‘Paul’ is doing, but he’s basically great. He and I are happy, but I’m not really in charge of him.” Then you pivot to ask her a question about how she is and what she is up to. And yes, ignore or delay answering texts you don’t want to answer.

Your mother-in-law will always care more for her son than for you. It’s doubtful that she will ever develop a sincere interest in your life. She may always be an annoying nudge. Be kind, be firm and practice establishing healthy boundaries, and you won’t dread hearing from her quite so much.

Dear Amy: Our oldest daughter and her fiance were planning a wedding for this summer. Due to the pandemic they have decided to reschedule the ceremony for next summer. In actuality they were married more than a year ago in secret, so their “wedding” will be held almost three years after getting married.

The discussion now is whether they should announce that they are married, and if so, how to make the announcement. What is your feeling?

— Perplexed Mom and Pop

Perplexed Mom and Pop: Over the years of writing this column, I’ve been surprised at how often couples get married privately or “secretly,” before they host their weddings — often many months later. I have heard from couples, family members and clergy that this is fairly common and that it shouldn’t pose a problem for others.

However, I believe that honesty about this can prevent misunderstandings, gossip or hard feelings later on.

The couple could

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