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LIVE: Amy Coney Barrett faces second day of questioning in Supreme Court confirmation hearing

Amy Coney Barrett
Posted at 5:48 AM, Oct 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-14 15:06:43-04

A day after Judge Amy Coney Barrett mostly sidestepped questions on her judicial views of politically-charged topics, Barrett returned to the Capitol on Wednesday for another marathon session of questioning in her Supreme Court confirmation hearing.

On Tuesday, Democrats continued their attempt to pry Barrett into sharing her judicial views on topics like abortion, public healthcare, LGBTQ+ rights and gun control — topics which Barrett is considered to take a conservative slant. However, Barrett continued to repeatedly invoke the "Ginsburg rule."

"Justice Ginsburg, with her characteristic pithiness, used this to describe how a nominee should comport herself at a hearing. No hints, no previews, no forecasts," Barrett said on Tuesday.

Ginsburg — whose seat Barrett seeks to fill following the longtime justice's death in September — coined the phrase during her confirmation hearings 27 years ago. While she did not set that precedent, she's credited with the concise phrasing that has been recited by many prospective justices in the decades since.

But The Associated Press notes that Ginsburg was open on her views of at least one hotly-debated topic — abortion.

"The decision whether or not to bear a child is central to a woman's life, to her well-being and dignity," Ginsburg said in 1993 during her confirmation hearing, according to the AP. "It is a decision she must make for herself. When Government controls that decision for her, she is being treated as less than a fully adult human responsible for her own choices."

As Democrats lobbed questions at Barrett regarding her judicial views, the judge offered few insights. Here's how she answered on the following topics:

Abortion

Like she did on Tuesday, Barrett attempted to avoid answering specific questions regarding her personal views on abortion. However, Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham asked Barrett specifically about legislation he introduced that would prevent a woman from receiving an abortion after 20 weeks. When asked if Barrett would listen to both sides of that case, Barrett said she would.

Graham went on to say that if Barrett were to be confirmed, it would punch through a "reinforced concrete barrier" facing conservative women, adding it would be the first time in history that a woman who is "unashamedly pro-life" would be appointed to the Supreme Court.

Affordable Care Act

Barrett mostly stuck to the "Ginsburg Rule" by attempting not to tip her hand when it came to sharing judicial views. However, questioning from Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, forced Barrett to admit that while she had written negatively about the Affordable Care Act and some Supreme Court rulings upholding it in the past, she had not ever written favorably about the law.

Cameras in the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has famously been one of the most secretive branches of government. Cameras and recording devices weren't allowed in high court hearings until this year when arguments were forced to be held via teleconference due to the COVID-19. In fact, it wasn't until 2018 that the court published case filings online.

However, Barrett said Wednesday that she would "keep an open mind" about allowing cameras in the courtroom moving forward.

Climate change

Sen. Richard Blumenthal asked Barrett directly if she believed if humans are causing climate change. She declined to answer the question directly and added that she didn't think it was relevant to her job.

Her comments come a day after she said during the first day of questioning that she has "no firm views" on climate change and added that she's "not a scientist."

COVID-19 lockdowns

Feinstein also asked Barrett about a Supreme Court ruling earlier this year in which the court said Wisconsin could not extend mail-in voting during its primary elections. The primary took place on April 7 — in the throes of pandemic-related lockdowns.

Feinstein asked Barrett specifically about her view of the case. Barrett declined to give one, again citing the fact that she did not want to provide a judicial view.

Polygamy

When asked by Graham if a group of Americans had a right to polygamous marriage, Barrett declined to give a direct answer, keeping in line with avoiding direct judicial answers.

Presidential powers

Leahy asked Barrett specifically if a president had a right to pardon himself for any crimes he may have committed. Barrett responded that such a hypothetical was not settled law and that she did not want to speculate lest a similar case come before the courts.

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Tuesday's hearings were also beset by technical issues. During Blumenthal's questioning, the committee was forced to take a brief recess when microphones in the room stopped working. Upon the committee's return, microphones again went dead as Blumenthal was wrapping up his time, forcing another brief recess.

On Tuesday, Barrett also often invoked the "Ginsburg Rule" when discussing abortion, an upcoming case that could decide the legality of the Affordable Care Act, gun control and voting rights.

Barrett was also asked about comments from President Donald Trump, who has hinted in the past that Ginsburg's seat must be filled prior to the election in the event the Supreme Court needs to make a crucial ruling. Barrett did not commit to recusing herself should such a case arise, but said she would consider the case and the recommendations of other justices.

Barrett's thorniest stretch on Tuesday came in a denouncement of discrimination of LGBTQ+ people when she used the term "sexual preference." The term, generally deemed to be outdated, is classified as "offensive" by GLAAD because it implies that sexuality is a "choice" that can be "cured." Barrett later apologized for using the term when confronted by Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii.

The 22 Senators on the committee were each given 30 minutes to question Barrett on Tuesday. Senators will each be given 20 minutes for questioning on Wednesday. Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, says he hopes to wrap up the confirmation hearing Thursday, and that Barrett is on track to be confirmed later this month, about a week before the 2020 election.

Several swing-vote Republicans have already indicated that they will vote to confirm Barrett, suggesting that she will likely be confirmed.