October 16, 2020

Day 4 of Barrett Hearings. Committee Vote Set for Oct. 22.

Judge Amy Coney Barrett
screenshot from C-Span
Thursday marked the fourth day of hearings regarding Judge Amy Coney Barrett's nomination to fill a seat on the Supreme Court. The day included a failed call from Sen. Dick Blumenthal (D-Conn.) to delay the confirmation process "indefinitely", as well as statements from several witnesses. The committee's final vote to bring the nominee before the full Senate is set for Thursday, Oct. 22.

In a motion that occurred early in the day, Sen. Blumenthal argued that the confirmation proceedings should be delayed "indefinitely". He accused the Republican members of the committee of rushing the process, but his motion failed to pass a committee vote.

As the committee voted Thursday morning to put Judge Barrett's nomination in front of the full Senate, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin (D) also objected. He argued that the vote should be delayed further since two members of the minority were not present at the hearing. His complaints were unsuccessful, however, and the voting date was set.

Later in the day, several witnesses came before the committee to advocate for and against Judge Barrett's nomination. American Bar Association chair Randall Noel vouched for Barrett, citing her qualifications, integrity, and judicial temperament. Students and clerks of Barrett's called her kind, fair, and empathetic.

Retired Judge Thomas Griffith argued that Barrett's religious beliefs would not impact her interpretation of the law. He said “When wearing the robe, there is no conflict between following God and following Caesar. It’s Caesar all the way down.” He further pointed to a "buffer-zone" case in which she ruled against pro-life demonstrators.

Witnesses against Barrett included a physician from Michigan who was concerned Barrett would strike down the Affordable Care Act, a West Virginian survivor of sexual abuse who feared the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and a mother who argued that the Affordable Care Act made it possible for her to pay for medical care her prematurely-born twins needed.

Barrett has stated repeatedly while being questioned that the Affordable Care Act would not necessarily be struck down in its entirety, even if the Supreme Court were to rule against it. She suggested that justices would have to deliberate about whether the legislators who crafted the Affordable Care Act would have wanted the law to stand without an individual mandate. This explanation makes it seem unlikely that the Affordable Care Act would be repealed in full, but Democrat Senators have stuck to the narrative regardless.

The stance taken by anti-Barrett witnesses is contradictory and bizarre. The witnesses simultaneously implied that Barrett is too pro-life to be brought to the Supreme Court and that she would not protect prematurely born children's right to healthcare. Her qualifications and demeanor have not been challenged. Instead, anti-Barrett politicians relied on emotional arguments with false premises.

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