Days before an already polarizing election cycle, President Donald Trump has nominated Justice Amy Coney Barrett to fill the highest judicial seat: the Supreme Court. If confirmed by the Senate, Barrett will fill the seat of late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Barrett’s nomination has not arrived free of objection but has called to question President Trump’s motives and the Republican Party’s ethics, in rushing a confirmation just before an election. If confirmed, six Republican justices will dominate the court.
The issue has engrossed sections of the presidential debates, posing questions of ethics, the voter’s right to choose and whether or not Biden’s campaign plans to “pack the court” if Barrett’s appointment is successful.
Barrett is a successful academic law professor at the University of Notre Dame. She currently serves as a judge on the seventh circuit court of appeals and is an active mother to seven children, all under the age of 19. Barrett and her husband Jesse have five biological children and two adopted children from Haiti.
Barrett addressed the Senate Judiciary Committee with an opening statement detailing her love for the law, the United States and the constitution. Barrett described herself as an originalist and a constitutionalist, in turn assuring the committee that she “does not have an agenda.”
Here is her opening statement:
Two healthcare subjects fueled debate from all Democrats on the committee: reproductive rights and the Affordable Care Act.
Senators Corey Booker, Richard Blumenthal and Kamala Harris all crafted intentional questions trying to extract Barrett’s views on both the bill and abortion rights. Barrett is a pro-life catholic.
She responded by invoking the “Ginsburg Rule”— a popular technique used in hearings to show impartiality and fairness in regards to answering hypothetical rulings.
“Justice Ginsburg with her characteristic pithiness used this to describe how a nominee should comport herself at a hearing. No hints, no previews, no forecasts. That had been the practice of nominees before her. But everybody calls it the Ginsburg rule because she stated it so concisely,” said Barrett
Here is the exchange between Senator Harris and Judge Barrett:
“More than 20 million Americans could lose their coverage entirely,” said Senator Harris. “Including nearly three million Black Americans and over five million Latino Americans who have received health insurance because of the Affordable Care Act.”
Senator Harris argued that Justice Ginsburg voiced her strong supportive views of women in during her confirmation hearing, dismissing Barrett’s citation of the rule.
Republicans on the other side of the aisle celebrated Justice Barrett’s legal resume and her commitment to service in her personal life.
Here is Judge Barrett’s exchange with Senator Ted Cruz:
On the Democratic side, I think it speaks volumes that collectively they’ve had very few questions for you,” said Senator Cruz. “And virtually none calling into question your credentials which are impeccable.”
Judge Barrett was persistently questioned by Democrats about President Trump, seeking to tie Barrett to the motives and previous statements he made regarding the Affordable Care Act.
“The president has promised to appoint justices who will vote to dismantle that law,” said Senator Dianne Feinstein. “As a candidate he criticized the Supreme Court for upholding the law and said, ‘if I win the presidency, my judicial appointments will do the right thing, unlike Bush’s appointee John Roberts on ObamaCare.’”
In Judge Barrett’s defense, Senator John Cornyn argued that Democrats can’t be certain how Barrett might rule on a case and it would be improper of them to solicit a pledge from the nominee about how she would handle a challenge to the ACA and other lawsuits, according to The Hill.
Barrett pledged to keep an open mind on any matter that comes to the court.
Up until now, Judge Barrett has accepted her nomination and attended four days of Senate hearings.
The Senate Judiciary Committee—made of 22 members— will vote on Oct. 22 at 1 p.m. EDT.
Republicans hold advantages in the full Senate and the Senate Judiciary Committee, meaning Barrett’s nomination is expected to pass the panel and move to the full Senate for approval, according to USA Today.
The Democrats have threatened to boycott the vote, though if all 12 Republican committee members attend, the vote can move forward.
The final vote date in the Senate is still unclear but is likely to happen the week of Oct. 26 – just days before the Nov. 3 election.