Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett declared Monday that Americans “deserve an independent Supreme Court that interprets our Constitution and laws as they are written,” encapsulating her conservative approach to the law that has Republicans excited about the prospect of her taking the place of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before Election Day.
Barrett spoke about her judicial philosophy, her experience, and her large family at the end of the first day of her fast-tracked confirmation hearings that Senate Democrats are using to try and brand her a threat to Americans’ health care during the coronavirus pandemic.
Why $2,000/oz Gold Could Be Just the Beginning> [sponsored]
But it was Sen. Josh Hawley, R-M.O., that stole the show early. He condemned the bigoted attack on Barrett’s Catholic faith made by many Democrats in recent weeks.
“When you tell somebody that they’re too Catholic to be on the bench, when you tell them they’ll be a Catholic judge, not an American judge, that’s bigotry,” Hawley said in a passionate statement. “The pattern and practice of bigotry from members of that from this committee must stop.”
HAWLEY: "When you tell somebody that they're too catholic to be on the bench, when you tell them they'll be a catholic judge, not an American judge, that's bigotry. The pattern and practice of bigotry from members of that from this committee must stop." pic.twitter.com/92FPVrvR14
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) October 12, 2020
Barrett herself spoke about her philosophy on law and her approach to the bench. After sitting in silence through nearly four hours of opening statements from members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the 48-year-old federal appeals court judge laid out her approach,, which she has likened to that of her conservative mentor, the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
“Courts have a vital responsibility to enforce the rule of law, which is critical to a free society. But courts are not designed to solve every problem or right every wrong in our public life,” Barrett said in a statement she delivered after removing the protective mask she wore most of the day.
“The policy decisions and value judgments of government must be made by the political branches elected by and accountable to the people. The public should not expect courts to do so, and courts should not try,.”
She told senators that she is “forever grateful” for Ginsburg’s trailblazing path as a woman on the court.
Yet Sen. Kamala Harris, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s running mate, attacked Barrett’s nomination. Harris said the court is “often the last refuge for equal justice” and a Barrett nomination puts in jeopardy everything Ginsburg fought to protect.
Testifying from her office because of the pandemic, Harris said that not only health care but voting rights, workers’ rights, abortion rights, and the very idea of justice are at stake.
Republicans called Barrett a thoughtful judge with impeccable credentials.
Barring a dramatic development, Republicans appear to have the votes to confirm her to a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court. If she is confirmed quickly, she could be on the court when it hears the latest challenge to the Affordable Care Act, a week after the election.
One after another, Democrats sought to tie her nomination to the upcoming court case.
“Health care coverage for millions of Americans is at stake with this nomination,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the committee’s senior Democrat.
Among Republicans, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, dismissed warnings Barrett will undo the Obama-era healthcare law as “outrageous.”
Trump himself seemed to be watching, tweeting several times about the hearing. In one message, he tweeted that he’d have a “FAR BETTER” health care plan, with lower costs and protections for pre-existing conditions. But he has not, as yet, discussed the details of his health care plan.
The Senate Judiciary Committee, meeting on the federal holiday of Columbus Day, kicked off four days of statements and testimony in an environment that has been altered by the coronavirus pandemic. Some senators were taking part remotely, and the hearing room itself was arranged with health concerns in mind.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., opened the hearing acknowledging “the COVID problem in America is real.” But he said, “We do have a country that needs to move forward safely.”
What really happened at this secluded army base? [sponsored]
Graham acknowledged the obvious: “This is going to be a long, contentious week.”
The Associated Press contributed to this article