THE NEUTRAL ZONE
On the fourth and final day of hearings, Amy Coney Barrett avoided any hints at how she might one day rule on cases, if confirmed. In response to numerous questions, she said she would need to hear arguments from litigants, read briefs, and consult with law clerks and colleagues to make any ruling. Those watching the days of hearings learned about Barrett’s overarching “originalist” approach to the law, a label often attached to her mentor, the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Kamala Harris questioned Barrett about her stances on various scientific issues, including the coronavirus pandemic and climate change. While Barrett agreed that the COVID-19 was infectious and smoking causes cancer, she declined to answer whether climate change is happening. “I will not express a view on a matter of public policy, especially one that is politically controversial,” Barrett said.
Today’s hearings also featured testimony from many witnesses, including two representatives from the American Bar Association, which earlier this week rated Barrett as “well qualified.” Pamela Roberts, the lead evaluator for the ABA’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary Committee’s evaluation of Barrett, said the panel received “laudatory” comments. “Judge Barrett has earned and enjoyed a reputation for integrity and outstanding character,” she said. “Judges and lawyers alike uniformly extolled the nominee’s integrity.”
Laura Wolk, a former student of Barrett who also clerked for her in 2019, praised Barrett’s character and how she made arrangements for technical assistance to help Wolk with her studies. “[Barrett’s] brilliance is matched only by her compassion, and her integrity is unassailable,” Wolk said.
Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) thanked Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) for how he ran Barrett’s hearing. She was spotted hugging him afterward. Progressive group Demand Justice began circulating a petition calling for Feinstein to step down.
Senate Judiciary Democrats attempted to delay Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court, citing “inadequate” time to review her nomination. Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut said, “I believe that this rush sham process is a disservice to our committee. She has been rushed in a way that is historically unprecedented.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee set Oct. 22 for its vote to recommend Barrett’s nomination to the full Senate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Barrett has enough support to win Senate confirmation to the Supreme Court.
What Amy Coney Barrett’s Confirmation Could Mean For Roe v. Wade – FiveThirtyEight – 10/15/2020
Barrett, unlike other recent Supreme Court nominees, has a fairly clear perspective on abortion, having previously joined groups and signed public statements opposing it. That stance appears to fall significantly to the right of where most Americans are on the issue, and her unwillingness to answer questions about these precedents is a reminder of just how dangerous the topic could be for both the Supreme Court and the Republicans.
Barrett Rising – National Review – 10/15/2020
[Democrats] used the hearings for two main purposes: to highlight issues that hurt President Trump rather than ones that are likely to cause her serious trouble, and to stroke the erogenous zones of their base. They have established that Barrett believes that some gun regulations are incompatible with the Second Amendment, that she is pro-life, and that she believes that Chief Justice John Roberts stretched the text of Obamacare in order to uphold it. All of these beliefs should be considered marks in her favor.
Greta Thunberg Chides Amy Coney Barrett’s Weak Stance On Climate Change – HuffPost – 10/15/2020
“To be fair, I don’t have any ‘views on climate change’ either,” Thunberg wrote on Twitter on Thursday, repeating Barrett’s words at the hearing. “Just like I don’t have any ‘views’ on gravity, the fact that the earth is round, photosynthesis nor evolution … But understanding and knowing their existence really makes life in the 21st century so much easier.”
Amy Coney Barrett’s Confirmation Hearings Were a Master Class in Political Posturing – Reason – 10/15/2020
After a week of hearings, it’s very unlikely that the public understands Barrett better now than they did on Monday, considering that the committee spent more time posturing than probing the judge’s judicial philosophy. Grandstanding may be an effective political strategy, but it didn’t tell us anything useful or significant about Barrett, and it won’t affect the outcome of her confirmation vote.