U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett testifies during her U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., October 13, 2020. REUTERS/Leah Millis/Pool

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

Amy Coney Barrett said Tuesday that she would bring “no agenda” to the Supreme Court. That didn’t stop Democrats from trying to uncover one.

Barrett said she would not be a “pawn” in election disputes, but she also said she wouldn’t recuse herself if those issues came up, at least not right away. “I will apply the factors that other justices have before me in determining whether the circumstances require my recusal or not,” she told Sen. Patrick Leahy during her confirmation hearing. 

As Democratics probed Barrett in 30-minute segments during the crucial day two of her hearings, she declined to answer Sen. Dianne Feinstein on her abortion views, stating that she wanted to come to court without any agenda in hand. Her only agenda, she said, was to “stick to the rule of law and decide cases as they come.” Feinstein told Barrett that it was “distressing to not get a straight answer” to her question. Barrett also did not answer Feinstein’s question about same-sex marriage, which the court made legal in 5-4 rulings in 2013 and 15. Antonin Scalia, her mentor, dissented on both decisions. Barrett did express regret at being unable to say whether she would endorse Scalia other than to say she admired him, but she also said, “You would be getting Justice Barrett.”

Barrett used the so-called Ginsburg rule, after Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who described her own confirmation in 1993 as “no hints, no previews, no forecasts,” the same way potential justices have faced hearings for decades. They do so because judges are supposed to be impartial on every new ruling, even if they identify as conservative or liberal, and treat every case as new, even if the topic seems familiar. 

Here are a couple other highlights: 

  • Barrett, who adopted two Black girls from Haiti, said the video of George Floyd’s death at the hands of police officers was “very, very personal for my family.” She said she saw the video with her 17-year-old Black daughter, Vivian. “We wept together,” Barrett said. 
  • Democrats used a good chunk of Monday’s hearings to talk about the danger of Barrett overturning Obamacare, but Barrett said Tuesday that she was “not hostile” to the Affordable Care Act and that she didn’t promise to overturn it to anyone: “If I was ever asked, that would have been a short conversation.”

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

Barrett reveals she’s not using notes during confirmation hearing – The Hill – 10/13/2020
An exchange between Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett made waves on Twitter after the judge revealed she was answering lawmakers’ questions without a single note in front of her. 

Trump’s words haunt Amy Coney Barrett as she vows not to be a ‘pawn’ on Supreme Court – NBC News – 10/13/2020
“I can’t really speak to what the president has said on Twitter,” Barrett responded. “He hasn’t said any of that to me.” She added, “I am 100 percent committed to judicial independence from political pressure.”

Barrett says George Floyd killing was ‘very, very personal’ for her family – Politico – 10/13/2020
Barrett, who has a Black son and daughter adopted from Haiti, was asked in the second day of her confirmation hearing about the viral video of Floyd dying at the hands of Minneapolis police in May.

Senators stir ghosts of Scalia and Ginsburg for Amy Coney Barrett hearing – The Guardian – 10/13/2020
Donald Trump’s third nominee to the supreme court, described herself as an originalist in the tradition of her mentor. Like the late Antonin Scalia, for whom she clerked, she subscribes to a theory of constitutional interpretation that attempts to understand and apply “meaning that [the constitution] had at the time people ratified it”.

Barrett says Roe v. Wade is not a ‘super precedent’ that cannot be overturned – Fox News – 10/13/2020
Judge Amy Coney Barrett said she doesn’t believe the Supreme Court’s landmark abortion ruling Roe v. Wade fits the scholarly definition of “super precedent,” or a case that cannot be overruled.

The Abortion Question Comes for Amy Coney Barrett – The Atlantic – 10/13/2020
“I completely understand why you are asking the question,” Barrett responded, looking grave. But “I can’t pre-commit or say, ‘Yes, I’m going in with some agenda,’ because I’m not. I don’t have any agenda.” The question may be unavoidable, but that doesn’t mean she will answer it.

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

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