In-Depth Analysis on Day 3 of Amy Coney Barrett Confirmation Hearings


Judge Amy Coney Barrett faced a second round of questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, the third day of her confirmation hearings for the U.S. Supreme Court.

The third day of Barrett’s hearings featured a second round of questioning from each of the committee’s 22 senators. Republicans projected confidence that Barrett will have the votes needed to be approved by the committee and the full Senate. The hearing concluded around 6 p.m. ET, about nine hours after it began. The first day of questioning on Tuesday stretched from 9 a.m. ET to late in the evening. On Thursday, the committee heard from experts for and against Barrett’s confirmation, and a committee vote is expected Oct. 22.

Democrats on the committee asked her to explain her positions on the Affordable Care Act, abortion rights, the upcoming election and other contentious issues that she might need to rule on if she is confirmed (NBC). Liberal senators continued to target an upcoming case on the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, which the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear on Nov. 10. Barrett has repeatedly refused to express an opinion on the case and has told the senators she would come to the bench with an open mind, but followed the model set by past nominees by declining to say much else. When Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., suggested that Barrett would vote in the same way as the late Justice Antonin Scalia, a conservative for whom Barrett clerked early in her career, she fired back that “I assure you I have my own mind.”

After Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the committee’s ranking Democrat, asked Barrett whether she agreed with some originalist legal scholars who believed that the Medicare program was unconstitutional, Barrett said she could not respond, citing what she has called the “Ginsburg Rule” of “no hints, no previews, no forecasts.” “It’s hard for me to believe that that’s a real question. Because I think the Medicare program is really sacrosanct in this country,” Feinstein responded.

Barrett also declined to weigh in on Shelby County v. Holder, a landmark 2013 case that weakened the Voting Rights Act, and an April decision from the Supreme Court that shortened the period allowed for casting absentee ballots in Wisconsin. “It’s the kind of case that could come up in a closely related form, either on the 7th Circuit, or on the Supreme Court,” Barrett said. Barrett would not tell Coons whether the 1965 case Griswold v. Connecticut, which protects the right of married couples to purchase contraception, was correctly decided, though she said the question had become largely academic because the precedent was unlikely to be challenged.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said that Democrats’ questions suggested they were “treating this hearing as a policy hearing.” “At times I have been confused and thought we were on the Health Committee, and not the Judiciary Committee,” Cruz said. He said that the focus on upcoming cases rather than Barrett’s qualifications “revealed very good news.” “Judge Barrett is going to be confirmed by this committee, and by the full Senate,” Cruz said (CNBC).

“I would like you to keep in mind how many people are listening and watching because they may take a message from what you say and they may see what you say and decline from using contraceptives or may feel they could be banned,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., told Barrett. “I would be surprised if people thought that birth control would be criminalized,” the judge replied. Blumenthal then said people are scared that marriage equality will be “cut back” and that their relationships could be criminalized. “To suggest that’s the kind of America I want to create isn’t based on any facts in my record,” Barrett said.

Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, who has long pushed for more visibility in the high court’s proceedings, asked Barrett about her thoughts on live-streaming court proceedings. Barrett told Grassley she’d “keep an open mind” about getting cameras in the court. Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., disagreed with Grassley, saying filming court proceedings would lead to “Michael Avenatti nonsense” and “theatrics.” 


Leave a Reply