Daily updates: Senate holds confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett


Michelle Liu

The Senate Judiciary Committee wrapped up three days of confirmation hearings today for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. The committee will meet again tomorrow to vote on Barrett’s nomination before a fourth day of hearings with outside testimony.

by Varsha Rammohan and Alysa Suleiman

As the Senate proceeds with the confirmation hearings and vote of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, this article will be updated with the latest news. Check Harker Aquila for more updates.

Day 3: Oct. 14

Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett faced the Senate Judiciary Committee again today for questioning, the last time before the confirmation vote in two weeks. Barrett continued to employ similar answers as Tuesday, declining to take a firm stance on potential cases in an attempt to depict herself as an independent judge.

The Affordable Care Act was again discussed as Barrett clarified her position on the severability of the case, where she said a specific statute deemed unconstitutional can be “severed” without having to eliminate the entire act. 

Although Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) implied that Barrett would uphold Obamacare due to severability, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-V.T.) said Barrett had publicly criticized Chief Justice John Roberts and the Supreme Court for voting to uphold sections of it.

Later in the hearing, Barrett said, “I have no animus to, or agenda for, the Affordable Care Act.

Other topics discussed were contraception, climate change and voting rights. When asked if she would oppose Griswold v. Connecticut, which established that married couples have the right to use contraception in their home, Barrett said that the Griswold ruling is “very, very, very, very, very, very unlikely to go anywhere.”

She refused to express her opinion on litigating voting discrimination yet added that she “think[s] racial discrimination still exists in the United States.” When asked if she thinks if climate change exists, she also refused to express a view due to the contentious nature of the issue. 

The committee will meet again tomorrow to vote on Barrett’s nomination before the fourth day of hearings with outside testimony.

Day 2: Oct. 13

The confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett continued Tuesday, with Barrett emphasizing her presence as an independent judge that differs from her previous mentor Justice Antonin Scalia, despite clarifying that she shares the same judiciary philosophy. 

“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. It’s the law of the American people.”

In response to a question about President Trump’s interest in overturning the Affordable Care Act, Barrett said that she is “I am 100 percent committed to judicial independence from political pressure,” and that she is not “pre-committed to decide a case in a particular way.” 

When Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-C.A.) asked Barrett whether she believed Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided, Barrett responded that “she cannot pre-commit,” causing Feinstein to respond that it was “distressing not to get a straight answer” on Barrett’s opinion of the right to abortion. Barrett also said that “she does not have any agenda to try and overrule [Planned Parenthood v. Casey]” and that she has “an agenda to stick to the rule of law and decide cases as they come.” 

In response to Sen. Patrick Leahy’s (D-V.T.) question on whether Barrett would commit to recusing herself from any case related to the November elections, Barrett responded that she would not be “used as a pawn to decide this election for the American people.”

Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) noted that a seat in the Supreme Court is not exclusive to those who have conservative preferences. He said that Barrett’s nomination is “extremely important” and that he will do anything in his power to ensure her confirmation, stating that it is difficult to be a young conservative woman in today’s world. 

Day 1: Oct. 12

The Senate Judiciary Committee kicked off its first day of confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett, who President Trump nominated to the court shortly after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Overseen by chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham (R.-S.C.), the first day of hearings saw committee members participating both virtually and in-person with Barrett appearing in-person to deliver her opening statement and hear the speeches of committee senators.

In Barrett’s opening statement, she discussed her experience working with the late Justice Antonin Scalia, whose past legal philosophy aligns closely with that of Barrett’s. While introducing her family, she noted that she would be the first justice to be a mother of young children as well as the only sitting justice who did not graduate from Harvard or Yale Law School. 

She also mentioned her faith, an area of focus that was discussed at length by Senate Republicans. “I believe in the power of prayer, and it has been uplifting to hear that so many people are praying for me,” she said. 

Senators Ben Sasse (R-N.E.) and Josh Hawley (R-M.O.) both spoke about religion and appeared to accuse Senate Democrats of criticizing Barrett’s beliefs, although no Democrats discussed religion in their opening statements. Conflicting views on religion are sure to reemerge in the coming days of questioning as Democrats press Barrett on her opinions on abortion and same-sex marriage.

Several Senate Democrats used their opening statements to make a case for protecting the Affordable Care Act in the light of the Supreme Court preparing to vote on its constitutionality on Nov. 10. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-C.A.) said, “[Republicans] are trying to get a justice onto the court in time to ensure they can strip away the protections of the Affordable Care Act. If they succeed, it will result in millions of people losing access to health care at the worst possible time in the middle of a pandemic.”

The 22 senators on the Judiciary Committee will each have thirty minutes to question Barrett tomorrow and Wednesday before her confirmation reaches the voting stage.