(Headline USA) Over and over, Amy Coney Barrett said she’d be her own judge if confirmed to the Supreme Court.
Barrett’s confirmation to the Supreme Court seems inevitable, as even some Senate Democrats acknowledged in Senate hearings on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The 48-year-old judge once again refused to indulge Democrats’ leading questions about left-wing conspiracy theories concerning Trump’s plans to push back the date of next month’s election, preventing voter intimidation and upholding the peaceful transfer of presidential power.
Despite their claims, Trump and his supporters have frequently noted that Democrats seem intent on doing the very things they are panic-mongering about.
They have sought several court cases, for example, to extend ballot deadlines well beyond election day, and failed 2016 candidate Hillary Clinton has encouraged this year’s hopeful, former Vice President Joe Biden, not to concede “under any circumstances.”
Trump has expressed an urgency to have the open court seat filled in the event that Biden’s team of celebrity leftist lawyers seeks to drag out the final outcome and challenge it through a never-ending stream of court cases.
Should the cases extend past Jan. 20, some fear that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would attempt to declare herself the president.
Nonetheless, Barrett was careful in two long days of Senate testimony not to take on the president who nominated her nor to speculate on hypothetical situations that might present themselves before the court—which she repeatedly told Democrat senators would be a violation of the judicial cannon of ethics.
She also refused to express her view on whether the president can pardon himself.
“It’s not one that I can offer a view,” she said in response to a question Wednesday from Sen. Pat Leahy of Vermont.
When it came to major issues that are likely to come before the court, including abortion and health care, she reiterated that she would keep an open mind and said neither Trump nor anyone else in the White House had tried to influence her views.
“No one has elicited from me any commitment in a case,” she said.
A longstanding rule—first codified by then-Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., during the confirmation of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, whom Barrett would replace on the court—has stipulated that senators would not expect potential justices to answer politically motivated questions about their policy positions.
But Democrats scuttled the rule, seeing an opportunity to score garbage political points with weeks until the Nov. 3 election, even if they could not thwart Barrett’s confirmation.
Ignoring the principle behind Barrett’s reluctance, they continued to bait her and claimed that she wouldn’t engage on topics that seemed easy to swat away, including that only Congress can change the date that the election takes place.
In response to their go-to attack, Barrett said she is not on a “mission to destroy the Affordable Care Act,” though she has been critical of the two Supreme Court decisions that preserved key parts of the Obama-era health care law.
Barrett is the most open opponent of abortion nominated to the Supreme Court in decades, and Democrats fear that her ascension could be a tipping point that threatens abortion rights.
But Republican senators embraced her stance, proudly stating that she was, in Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham’s words, an “unashamedly pro-life” conservative who is making history as a role model for other women.
Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., said there “is nothing wrong with confirming a devout pro-life Christian.”
Barrett refused to say whether Roe v. Wade‘s 1973 legalization of abortion was correctly decided, though she signed an open letter seven years ago that called the decision “infamous.”
In an exchange with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Barrett resisted the invitation to explicitly endorse or reject the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s comments about perpetuating “racial entitlement” in a key voting rights case.
“When I said that Justice Scalia’s philosophy is mine, too, I certainly didn’t mean to say that every sentence that came out of Justice Scalia’s mouth or every sentence that he wrote is one that I would agree with,” Barrett said.
She called the Voting Rights Act a “triumph in the civil rights movement,” without discussing the specifics of the earlier challenge to it. The court will hear another challenge to the law early next year.
All in all, the hearing stood in stark contrast with the drama-filled, disruptive outbursts that accompanied the 2018 confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh. But one of the prominent Democrats who treated Kavanaugh’s hearing in a particularly disrespectful manner was back at it with Barrett.
One of the more dramatic moments came late Wednesday as California Sen. Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice presidential nominee, attempted to grill Barrett on whether racial discrimination in voting and climate change were legitimate concerns.
Harris asked if she agreed with Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote in a 2013 voting rights case that “voting discrimination still exists; no one doubts that.”
Barrett said she would “not comment on what any justice said in an opinion.”
Asked whether “climate change is happening,” Barrett said she wouldn’t engage because it is “a very contentious matter of public debate.” Barrett did, however, say she believes the novel coronavirus is infectious and smoking causes cancer.
Barrett also testified she has not spoken to Trump or his team about election cases, and declined to commit to recusing herself from any post-election cases.
She did describe what the role of the court would be if it were asked to intervene. “Certainly the court would not see itself — and would not be — electing the president. It would be applying laws that are designed to protect the election and protect the right to vote,” Barrett said.
In 2000, the court’s decision in Bush v. Gore brought a Florida recount to a halt, effectively deciding the election in George W. Bush’s favor. Barrett was on Bush’s legal team in 2000, in a minor role.
Underscoring the Republicans’ confidence, Graham set an initial committee vote on the nomination for Thursday morning, the last day of hearings, which would allow final approval by the full Senate by the end of the month.
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press