Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearing: Day 2

Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett speaks during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on October 13, 2020.
Barrett: I won't be used as a pawn in election dispute
03:45 - Source: CNN

What you need to know

  • President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett faced the Senate Judiciary Committee for a second day of confirmation hearings.
  • Senators will also question Barrett on Wednesday. The nominee has been grilled by Democrats on health care and abortion.
  • If confirmed, Barrett would fill late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Supreme Court seat and lock in a more dominant 6-3 conservative majority on the high court.
  • Our live coverage has ended. Read and watch more below to see what you missed.
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Here are some key takeaways from Barrett's confirmation hearing today 

The second day of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearing has wrapped.

Barrett faced questions for more than 11 hours from the Senate Judiciary Committee, and declined to preview how she would rule on potential cases, seeking instead to portray herself as an independent judge without an agenda.

If you’re just reading in, here are some takeaways from the first day of questioning:

  • On abortion and Roe v. Wade: Barrett repeatedly declined to give her views on high-profile, contentious issues like abortion rights and the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. She was repeatedly asked about her views of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark case establishing a constitutional right to abortion, and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which reaffirmed its central holding in 1992.
  • The Affordable Care Act: Barrett also rejected Democratic senators’ questions on the Affordable Care Act, citing Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s response to answering hypothetical questions during her hearing in 1993. “No hints, no previews, no forecasts,” said Barrett. Sen. Kamala Harris stuck to her Democratic colleagues’ approach, connecting her nomination to the future of the health care law and telling Barrett that the American people are afraid the Affordable Care Act will be “destroyed in the middle of a pandemic.”
  • On a possible election case: Barrett did not commit to recusing herself from a potential Trump v. Biden case. The issue was raised when Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy asked ‪Barrett if she would commit to recusing herself from any case related to the November elections. She declined.
  • On the nomination process: Barrett gave a surprisingly candid response to a question from Sen. Lindsey Graham on how it felt to be nominated for the Supreme Court of the United States. Barrett said that she tried “a media blackout for the sake of my mental health,” but is “aware of a lot of caricatures that are floating around” of her and her family.

Read more about today’s hearing here.

Barrett says she faced "cruel" accusations as cost of Supreme Court nomination

Sen. John Kennedy, a Louisiana Republican, offered Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett the chance to respond to a criticism that she was using her two adopted children, who are Black, as “props.” 

Barrett explained that the “cruel” accusation was an example of the cost the Supreme Court nomination had on her family.

“Senator Kennedy it was the risk of people saying things like that, which would be so hurtful to my family, that when I told Sen. Graham this morning that my husband and I had to really weigh the costs of this, it was saying deeply offensive and hurtful things, things not only hurtful to me, but are hurtful to my children, who are my children, who we love and who we brought home and made part of our family. And accusations like that are cruel,” Barrett said. 

Harris criticizes Barrett for quoting Ginsburg but refusing to weigh in on abortion rights

Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris criticized Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s refusal to weigh in on abortion rights, telling her “several times today, you have quoted Justice [Ruth Bader] Ginsburg’s testimony about not making predictions in future cases. However, she was far more forthcoming about the essential rights of women.”

Harris went on to quote from the late justice’s 1993 confirmation, that imposing restraints impedes a woman’s choice and disadvantages a woman because of her sex.

“Justice Ginsburg did not tell the committee how she would vote in any particular case. But she did freely discuss how she viewed a woman’s right to choose. But Judge Barrett clearly shows you hold a different view,” Harris added.

She then mentioned her signature on 2006 ad against Roe v. Wade and ways she has reconsider abortion restrictions while on the 7th Circuit US Court of Appeals. 

“If the Senate considers filling the seat of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was straightforward enough in her confirmation hearing to say that the right to choose is ‘essential to women’s equality,’ I would suggest that we not pretend that we don’t know how this nominee views a woman’s right to choose to make her own health care decision,” Harris said bluntly.

The California senator and Democratic vice presidential nominee then entered for the record documents from Planned Parenthood, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and NAACP opposing Barrett’s nomination.

Harris sticks to Democrats' approach connecting Barrett nomination to ACA case

Sen. Kamala Harris.

Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris cited, like many of the Democratic senators before her, the academic writing in which Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett criticized the legal opinion of Justice John Roberts upholding the Affordable Care Act, as happening just months before President Trump initially nominated her for US Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in 2017.

Appearing in the confirmation virtually, Harris asked, “My question is how many months after you published that article did President Trump nominate you to be a judge on the Court of Appeals?”

Barrett, without notes, said she did not remember that timing of her article—and Harris followed up that it was published in January 2017—and Trump nominated Barrett in May 2017.

“In other words, the Affordable Care Act and all its protections hinge on this seat and the outcome of this hearing. And I believe it’s very important the American people understand the issues at stake, and what’s at play,” Harris said.

The California senator then asked Barrett if she – before her current nomination—knew of Trump’s vows to choose a SCOTUS nominee that would strike down the ACA.

In a slightly testy back and forth, in which Barrett at once said Harris changed her question, the judge said, “I don’t recall seeing or hearing those statements.”

Harris to Barrett: People are scared of what will happen if ACA is "destroyed" during the pandemic

Judge Amy Coney Barrett and California senator Kamala Harris.

Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris used her time of questioning to paint a picture of the impact of coronavirus on the American people and the health care system, and told Judge Amy Coney Barrett that Americans are afraid of losing the Affordable Care Act in the middle of the pandemic.

“People are scared. People are scared of what will happen if the Affordable Care Act is destroyed in the middle of a pandemic,” Harris said, noting that due to the pandemic millions of people with coronavirus now have preexisting conditions.

“Those who depend on the ACA are afraid of their lives being turned upside down if the court strikes it down. They know what could happen,” she said.

Speaking from her Senate office, Harris highlighted the story of a woman from Southern California who now teaches at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Harris said the woman has multiple preexisting conditions, including asthma, and a rare autoimmune disorder. 

“Her life depends on periodic cancer fighting infusions that cost $160,000 a year. She’s terrified. She knows without the Affordable Care Act, she could not afford ongoing treatment, the treatment she needs to stay alive,” Harris said, holding a photo of the woman during the remarks. 

Watch Sen. Harris:

02:39 - Source: CNN

The hearing is back in session

The Senate Judiciary Committee is back in session, and Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris is addressing Judge Amy Coney Barrett from her Senate office.

There will be a second day of questioning tomorrow.

The hearing is on a break

Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearing will resume at approximately 6:50 p.m. ET, and the Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris will begin her 30-minute round of questions.