U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett testifies on the third day of her U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., October 14, 2020. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/Pool

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

Amy Coney Barrett explained the concept of “severability” well enough to impress one of the most vocal opponents in her Senate confirmation hearings, Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.). That’s also because Feinstein may be encouraged by Barrett’s reasoning for how Obamacare could survive an expected challenge in the Supreme Court.

Health care, not Halloween, inspired the term, which became the word of day three’s hearings as senators pressed Barrett on Obamacare. She explained that the question was whether a section of the Affordable Care Act could be “severed” if that section was deemed unconstitutional or whether the law would have to fall.

“The presumption is always in favor of severability,” said Barrett as she answered questions from Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). Later, Graham clarified Barrett’s position: “Would it be further true that if you can preserve a statue, you try to, to the extent possible?”

“That is true,” Barrett responded. Barrett used the game “Jenga” as a metaphor: Removing one piece from the tower doesn’t always make it fall. 

Here are some other tidbits:

• Barrett also explained her belief in “originalism”: “That means that I interpret the Constitution as a law… I understand it to have the meaning that it had at the time people ratified it. That meaning doesn’t change over time and it’s not up to me to update it or infuse my policy views into it.” The definition, however, didn’t impress Hillary Clinton, who said women couldn’t even vote when the Constitution was written, “much less be judges.”

• Sen. Chris Coons said Barrett wasn’t nominated to carry on Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s legacy. Instead, she would “profoundly affect the balance of the court.” Barrett said Justices Antonin Scalia and Stephen Breyer advocated for different viewpoints, Scalia for originalism and Breyer, a Bill Clinton nominee, for active liberty. “There’s room on the court for that, for having different approaches,” she said. She also said there shouldn’t be Republican and Democratic judges. “They’re just judges,” she said.

• On that note, Barrett once again pledged to keep an open mind on cases, even while Graham’s opening statement expressed his admiration for a woman who was “unashamedly pro-life and embraces her faith without apology.” “She is going to the court,” he said.

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

Barrett’s Evasions Show Why Expanding the Court Is Necessary – The Nation – 10/14/2020
Donald Trump has been admirably candid about the fact that he’s rushing the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to be a Supreme Court justice because he might need her help to decide the election. 

Why The Amy Coney Barrett Hearings Are Verging On The Absurd – FiveThirtyEight – 10/13/2020
Barrett’s refusal to offer her views on virtually every issue wasn’t surprising — almost all judicial nominees from both parties do that. But that approach turned Tuesday’s hearings into … OK, I’ll just say it: a farce. 

Support for Barrett’s confirmation has grown steadily across political spectrum, poll showsThe Week – 10/14/2020
Although public opinion does not directly affect the process, the numbers certainly appear to boost the likelihood that the GOP will have the numbers needed for Barrett to fill the seat.

Here’s Amy Coney Barrett’s Advice For Young Women Daily Caller – 10/14/20
Republican Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst offered Barrett a chance to offer “words of encouragement” to young women who admire Barrett. The Supreme Court nominee shared advice she said she gives to her own daughters, and wisdom from her own father.

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

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