Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation hearing: Day 1

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 4:00 PM ET, Mon October 12, 2020
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2:44 p.m. ET, October 12, 2020

Barrett closes remarks with pledge "to faithfully and impartially discharge my duties to the American people"

Leah Millis/Pool/AFP/Getty Images
Leah Millis/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Amy Coney Barrett closed her opening remarks by pledging "to faithfully and impartially discharge my duties to the American people" as a Supreme Court justice.

She thanked the people that reached out with messages of support after she was nominated by President Trump.

Here's how she closed her remarks:

"As a final note, Mr. Chairman, I would like to thank the many Americans from all walks of life who have reached out with messages of support over the course of my nomination. I believe in the power of prayer, and it has been uplifting to hear that so many people are praying for me. I look forward to answering the Committee's questions over the coming days. And if I am fortunate enough to be confirmed, I pledge to faithfully and impartially discharge my duties to the American people as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Thank you."

2:53 p.m. ET, October 12, 2020

Democrats stayed laser-focused on health care in opening day of SCOTUS hearing

From CNN's Lauren Fox

Senate Democrats were united in driving home one message in the opening day of Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearing that her confirmation could threaten the future of the Affordable Care Act. 

In a series of opening statements Monday, Democrats stuck to a script that was crafted by members of leadership and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden weeks ago, a message that Democrats hope will win them political support at the polls even if it cannot keep Barrett off the bench. 

“Republicans finally realized the ACA is too popular to repeal in Congress, so now they are trying to bypass the will of voters and have the Supreme Court do their dirty work,” Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris said during her remarks. “If Republicans succeed in striking down the ACA, insurance companies will be able to deny coverage to children with serious conditions.”

Every single Democrat on the committee brought with them a photograph and a story of at least one constituent for whom the ACA had made a difference. 

“Children like Myka,” Harris said—speaking about an 11-year-old Southern California girl who Harris showed in a photo next to her.

Sen. Cory Booker, a Democrat from New Jersey, talked about constituents “Merritt and Michelle.”

“They know what a future without the ACA looks like. It looks like 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions — from cancer survivors to people with disabilities — being charged more or denied coverage completely. It looks like 20 million people losing their access to potentially life-saving care in the middle of a pandemic that has killed over 214,000 Americans,” Booker said. 

Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont, said people in his state are afraid of what Barrett’s confirmation could mean for health care. 

"They're scared, Judge Barrett. They're scared that your confirmation would rip from them the very healthcare protections that millions of Americans have fought to maintain, and which Congress has repeatedly rejected eliminating,” Leahy said. 

An aide to the committee told CNN that after multiple member-level discussions, members of the committee agreed that not only health care, but the personal stories of people across the country would be the most effective strategy for day one. 

 

2:35 p.m. ET, October 12, 2020

Amy Coney Barrett says policy should be left to lawmakers. Here's what that means.

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

Caroline Brehman/Pool/AFP/Getty Images
Caroline Brehman/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

In her opening statement at her confirmation hearing, Judge Amy Coney Barrett said the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s approach to law shaped her and that policy choices should be left to the American people's representatives in her view. 

CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin explained how this translate for issues like gay marriage and abortion. Here's what he said:

“Justice Scalia felt like if a state wants to ban marriage between two men or two women, that's a policy choice that a state should be allowed to make. Justice Scalia thought that if a state wants to ban abortion, that's a policy choice that a state should be allowed to make. What Justice Ginsburg thought was that the Constitution trumps those policy choices, that the Constitution forbids states from engaging in acts that are discriminatory, violating the 14th amendment or the first amendment. So the language of deferring to the policy choices of the states has real political content and it’s conservative political content, and it's what Justice Scalia believed.”

He added: "But people should understand, that's what it means in the real world. It is not just boilerplate. It has real political content."

2:36 p.m. ET, October 12, 2020

Judge Barrett outlines the standard she sets for herself in every case

Kevin Dietsch/Pool/AP
Kevin Dietsch/Pool/AP

In her remarks to the House Judiciary Committee, Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett described the process she uses when considering arguments and writing opinions. Barrett said she plans to use the same standard if confirmed to the highest court.

Here's what she told lawmakers:

"In every case, I have carefully considered the arguments presented by the parties, discussed the issues with my colleagues on the court, and done my utmost to reach the result required by the law, whatever my own preferences might be. I try to remain mindful that, while my court decides thousands of cases a year, each case is the most important one to the parties involved. After all, cases are not like statutes, which are often named for their authors. Cases are named for the parties who stand to gain or lose in the real world, often through their liberty or livelihood. When I write an opinion resolving a case, I read every word from the perspective of the losing party.
I ask myself how would I view the decision if one of my children was the party I was ruling against. Even though I would not like the result, would I understand that the decision was fairly reasoned and grounded in the law? That is the standard I set for myself in every case, and it is the standard I will follow as long as I am judge on any court. "

Despite the sacrifices that would come to her family, Barrett said she was "deeply honored" by President Trump's nomination, and accepted because she believes "deeply in the rule of law and the place of the Supreme Court in our nation."

She added that she believes Americans of "all backgrounds deserve an independent Supreme Court that interprets our Constitution and laws as they are written."

"And I believe I can serve my country by playing that role," Barrett said.

2:11 p.m. ET, October 12, 2020

Barrett on Ginsburg: "I will be forever grateful for the path she marked"

From CNN's Chandelis Duster, Pamela Brown and Ariane de Vogue

Shawn Thew/Pool/AP
Shawn Thew/Pool/AP

Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett praised the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg for opening doors, even though the two women are ideological opposites.

"I come before this Committee with humility about the responsibility I have been asked to undertake, and with appreciation for those who came before me," Barrett told lawmakers.

"When I was 21 years old and just beginning my career, Ruth Bader Ginsburg sat in this seat," Barrett continued.

"I have been nominated to fill Justice Ginsburg's seat, but no one will ever take her place," she said. "I will be forever grateful for the path she marked and the life she led."

The Supreme Court nominee said it would be "the honor of a lifetime" to serve on the highest court, and she highlighted the "new perspectives" she could bring to the bench, including being the the first mother of school-age children to serve on the Supreme Court.

2:10 p.m. ET, October 12, 2020

Barrett says Justice Scalia "taught me more than just law"

From CNN's Chandelis Duster, Pamela Brown and Ariane de Vogue

Win McNamee/Pool/AFP/Getty Images
Win McNamee/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett's opening statement focused on how her mentor, the late Justice Antonin Scalia, influenced her career and the opportunity to be nominated to the Supreme Court.

"More than the style of his writing, though, it was the content of Justice Scalia's reasoning that shaped me," Barrett told lawmakers. "His judicial philosophy was straightforward: A judge must apply the law as written, not as the judge wishes it were. Sometimes that approach meant reaching results that he did not like. But as he put it in one of his best known opinions, that is what it means to say we have a government of laws, not of men."

Barrett said Scalia taught her "more than just law" and he was "devoted to his family, resolute in his beliefs, and fearless of criticism."

Throughout her legal career, Barrett said she resolved to maintain the same perspective as Scalia.

"There is a tendency in our profession to treat the practice of law as all-consuming, while losing sight of everything else. But that makes for a shallow and unfulfilling life," Barrett said.

Barrett, the mother of seven children, also used her remarks to describe her connection and dedication to her family.

"I am used to being in a group of nine—my family. Nothing is more important to me, and I am so proud to have them behind me," she said.

2:01 p.m. ET, October 12, 2020

Barrett sworn in for her opening statement

Win McNamee/Getty Images
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Trump's Supreme Court nominee, was just sworn in at the Senate Judiciary Committee's hearing.

She's now delivering her opening statement before the committee.

2:07 p.m. ET, October 12, 2020

Senators gave their opening statements today. Here are some of the highlights.

Greg Nash/Pool/AFP/Getty Images
Greg Nash/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Senators on the Judiciary Committee this morning delivered their opening statements to kick off the confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.

Barrett will soon give her own opening remarks. If you're just reading in now, here are the key moments from the hearing:

  • Kamala Harris slammed GOP's timeline: Harris, the Democratic vice presidential nominee, said the Supreme Court confirmation hearing should have been postponed because of coronavirus concerns, saying the committee has not taken enough precautions to keep people safe.
  • Lindsey Graham said the process is constitutional: Graham addressed the controversy around President Trump’s nomination of Barrett to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the Senate Republicans’ push to confirm the nomination. “There's nothing unconstitutional about this process. This is a vacancy that's occurred through a tragic loss of a great woman, and we're going to fill that vacancy with another great woman. The bottom line here is that the Senate is doing its duty constitutionally,” the South Carolina senator said.
  • Amy Klobuchar talked about her dad's and husband's coronavirus battles: Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota, stressed the need to protect the Affordable Care Act and accused Republicans of rushing to confirm Barrett — who once tried to puncture arguments favoring Obamacare — to the bench not only before the court takes up a new case about the ACA, but also during the deadly Covid-19 pandemic. Klobuchar detailed how her husband and her 92-year-old father were infected with Covid-19, saying the pandemic is "personal" for her and other American families who have dealt with the virus firsthand.
  • Josh Hawley brought up Barrett's faith: In perhaps the most heated statements so far in today's hearing, Hawley, a Republican from Missouri, attacked Democrats for what he perceived to be veiled attacks on Amy Coney Barrett's Catholicism — something he called a “pattern and practice of religious bigotry.” But in reality, today it has been Republicans, not Democrats who have referred to her religion. As for Barrett, she plans to nod to it in her opening statement where she will say that she believes in the power of prayer. 

3:17 p.m. ET, October 12, 2020

Kamala Harris: GOP is trying to use SCOTUS to do "their dirty work" in repealing ACA

From CNN's Maureen Chowdhury

Sen. Kamala Harris slammed Senate GOP members for pushing through the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett as an effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act through the Supreme Court.

"Republicans finally realized that the Affordable Care Act is too popular to repeal in Congress, so now they are trying to bypass the will of voters and have the Supreme Court do their dirty work," Harris said.

Harris emphasized that President Trump and Republican members of Congress were unable to repeal the law, despite their many efforts, and doing so through the Supreme Court is going against what the American people want.

"That's why President Trump promised to only nominate judges who will get rid of the Affordable Care Act," Harris said.

Harris added that the rush from Republicans to push through Barrett before the election is "to ensure they can strip away the protections" of the ACA when the Supreme Court takes up the case on Nov. 10.

Read Harris' full prepared opening statement here.

Watch here: