Supreme Court Candidate Amy Coney Barrett speaks during a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on October 13, 2020 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
Susan Walsh | AFP | Getty Images
Judge Amy Coney Barrett got her first attempt at answering questions live from members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, the second day of the Trump Appointee's Supreme Court confirmatory hearing.
The judge on the U.S. 7th Court of Appeals spent the first two hours of the hearing on questions about abortion, the second amendment, her view on the role of precedent, and an upcoming case on the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
Following the example of previous candidates, Barrett largely refused to delve into the question of whether certain cases, particularly the landmark Roe v. Wade should be overturned despite repeated impulses from the committee's top Democrat, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California.
Barrett repeatedly reassured senators that she had no agenda but refused to say much more and declined to answer even a question about whether Trump could delay the November presidential election.
Barrett gave her most frank answer to a question from Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., The committee chairman. Graham asked Barrett why she accepted the nomination. She said the trial was "excruciating" but she was "committed to the role of law and the role of the Supreme Court in providing equal justice to all".
The Tuesday format guarantees a long day. Each of the 22 senators on the committee – 12 Republicans and 10 Democrats – has half an hour to ask questions. Follow-ups are allowed on Wednesday and outside groups are expected to speak to the committee on Thursday.
The hearings, which started at 9 a.m., are expected to last until late at night. Here are the top moments so far.
Barrett says she won't walk in "like a royal queen".
Graham, who opened the hearings and found he faced a re-election challenge in South Carolina, spent much of his assigned Question Time asking Barrett what she thought of the role of "rigid decision," a Latin phrase that implies the "To stand by things" means decided. "
The doctrine generally means that the Supreme Court justices try not to overturn previous cases without valid reason. Given Democratic concerns, Barrett has taken on a new meaning that Barrett will urge Roe v. Overturning Wade if confirmed.
Barrett told Graham that she won't be able to march into the Supreme Court and overthrow Roe or other cases immediately.
"Judges can't just wake up one day and say, 'I have an agenda, I like guns, I hate guns, I like abortion, I hate abortion' and they can step in like a royal queen and give theirs to the world Forcing Will, "said Barrett.
Later, when Feinstein urged her to agree with the late Judge Antonin Scalia, whom she worked for, and who said the court's precedents for abortions should be lifted, Barrett refused at least three times.
"Whether I say I love it or I hate it, it signals to litigants that I can tip one way or the other on a pending case," Barrett said.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) speaks to the Senate Judicial Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, United States, during the verification hearing for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney October 2020.
Susan Walsh | Reuters
The process was "excruciating," says Barrett
Barrett got her first chance to discuss the personal challenges of the verification process in response to a question from Graham about why she had accepted Trump's nomination.
"This is a really difficult, some might say, excruciating process," said Barrett. "We knew our lives would be searched for negative details, we knew our beliefs would be caricatured, we knew our families would be attacked."
"What sane person would go through this if there was no benefit on the other slide?" She asked.
"The upside I think is that I am committed to the role of law and the role of the Supreme Court in providing equal justice to all," she said. "I'm not the only person who can do this job, but I've been asked and it wouldn't be difficult for anyone."
"My family is fully involved because they share my belief in the rule of law," said Barrett.
Barrett won't say if Trump can delay the election
When asked by Feinstein whether Trump could lawfully postpone the November 3 election, Barrett said she could not respond without essentially becoming a "legal expert".
"Senator, if I were ever asked that question, I would have to hear arguments from litigants, read briefs, consult with my employees, speak to my colleagues, and go through the opinion-writing process," Barrett told Feinstein.
"If I were to give the cuff responses, I would be basically a legal expert and I don't think we want judges as legal experts. I think we want judges to be thoughtful and open about cases," she added.
Trump, who is behind Biden in national and state polls, has pushed for the election to be delayed, arguing without evidence that mail-in votes are prone to mass fraud. The Constitution gives Congress the power to set the date of the presidential election.
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) speaks during Judge Amy Coney Barrett's hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, the United States, on October 13, 2020.
Stefani Reynolds | Reuters
This is a developing story. Check for updates again.