Supreme Court confirmation hearings focus on healthcare, religion

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WASHINGTON (CNS) – On October 12, the start of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s confirmation hearings for Supreme Court candidate Justice Amy Coney Barrett had two distinct goals.

Democratic senators feared Barrett’s confirmation would lead to a vote to potentially overturn the Affordable Care Act when the legislation goes to the country’s high court in November.

Republican senators highlighted the candidate’s qualifications for the post and stressed that her Catholic faith, which was raised during her 2017 questioning before a Senate committee for her appointment to the federal bench, should not be an issue in current proceedings.

Senators from Indiana who introduced Barrett, remotely, to the committee near the end of the five-hour discussion about him, highlighted Barrett’s forensic talents and also stressed that his Catholic faith should not be questioned. . Senator Todd Young, R-Indiana, also pointed out that in his state: “Faith is seen as an asset in public service.

In her remarks, Barrett said she was “honored and humiliated” to be appointed to the Supreme Court. She spoke about her husband, their seven children, her siblings and her parents. She mentioned the “dedicated teachers of St. Mary’s Dominican,” the girls’ high school she attended in New Orleans, and she also mentioned that if confirmed she would be the only judge on the bench, not Harvard or Yale, but the University of Notre Dame.

Other than school credentials, Barrett’s only remark on his faith came after thanking people for their support in recent weeks. She added, “I believe in the power of prayer, and it has been uplifting to hear that so many people are praying for me. “

Giving an indication of her judicial philosophy, she said: “Courts have a vital responsibility to uphold the rule of law… but courts are not designed to solve all problems or right all wrongs in our public life. The political decisions and value judgments of government must be made by the political branches elected by the people and accountable to them. “

She said she tried to follow this point of view as a judge, “aware that although my court adjudicates thousands of cases a year, each case is the most important to the parties involved.”

At the start of the hearings, Senator Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, who is chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, stressed that the four-day process before sending the nomination to the Senate for a vote would be a “long week. controversial.

He also noted that the procedure was “not intended to persuade each other unless something really dramatic happened.” He predicted that “all Republicans will vote yes, all Democrats will vote no” for President Donald Trump’s candidate to fill the Supreme Court seat vacated by the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg on September 18.

“Nothing about this today is normal,” said Sen. Cory Booker, D-New Jersey, in the middle of the first day of opening remarks from committee members, noting that the country is in the process of holding a presidential election and fight. the coronavirus pandemic.

Signs of coronavirus precautions were evident in the room itself where Senators were socially distanced and wore masks while bottles of hand sanitizer and plastic containers of bleach wipes were visible on counters. The courtroom also lacked the usual crowds that these events typically draw, and a few Senators participated from a distance.

Two members of the Senate Judiciary Committee had tested positive for COVID-19 earlier, but those in the Senate courtroom were not required to be tested for coronavirus before attending the hearing in the closed room, as some of the Democratic senators have mentioned. .

Ahead of the hearings, protesters and supporters of Barrett’s nomination gathered outside in the rain to express their views with signs such as “Let the people decide!” Or “Women for Amy”.

During the hearing, Barrett was seated at a table across from the Senators, and her husband and six of their children were seated behind her.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., The senior Democrat on the committee, began the discussion with a pattern followed by her fellow Democrats, expressing overriding concern that with Barrett’s confirmation “Americans stand to lose the benefits that the ACA offers. “

On November 10, the court will hear oral arguments for the third time on the healthcare law, often referred to as Obamacare, in a case brought by 18 Republican state attorneys general and backed by the Trump administration.

As a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, Barrett has not heard any cases regarding the ACA. But in 2017, she wrote an article in the Notre Dame Law School newspaper that criticized Chief Justice John Roberts’ majority opinion in the 2012 ruling, saying he “pushed the Affordable Care Act to the limit. – beyond its plausible meaning to save the law “.

This quote was mentioned by several Democratic senators, many of whom referenced and showed poster-sized photos of their constituents suffering from health issues who they believe would lose their health insurance if the ACA were dismantled.

A few Democrats have mentioned the Roe v. Wade of the Supreme Court legalizing abortion, saying she was also at stake with Barrett’s appointment. Several of them described the ongoing hearings as a “sham” or “masquerade” for being rushed amid the elections and the pandemic.

Republicans pointed to Barrett’s qualifications and many of them raised the question of his Catholic faith, which was raised during his 2017 hearings. Several referred to a comment made at the time by Feinstein, who had said to him: “The dogma lives noisily in you, and it is a concern.

Feinstein was referring to Barrett’s speeches and a 1998 article she co-authored on the role of Catholic judges in death penalty cases. The senator also asked Barrett about keeping Roe v. Wade.

Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Nebraska, said confirmation hearings should focus on civic education, not politics, and stressed that senators should not participate in religious testing of a court candidate or try to determine “if” the dogma lives too hard “in Someone.”

Senator Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, also recalled the interrogation Barrett received in 2017 and said it reflected “the very terminology of anti-Catholic bigotry.”

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Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim


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