/Live updates: Amy Coney Barrett faces questions at Supreme Court confirmation hearing

Live updates: Amy Coney Barrett faces questions at Supreme Court confirmation hearing

What it’s like inside the Senate hearing room

The GOP side of the room is full, with all members present. All are wearing masks except Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., on the far end of the lower table.

Texas Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn are wearing matching Texas flag masks.

Several Democratic members are absent – including Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Mazie Hirono of Hawaii. Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse is the lone Democrat not wearing a mask. Barrett’s family, including her children, sit behind her on one side. On the other side is White House counsel Pat Cipollone.

Barrett declines to say whether Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, asked Barrett if she agrees with the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s view that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided in 1973. 

Barrett said she would invoke the description given by Justice Elena Kagan in her confirmation hearing about grading a precedent to give it a thumbs up or down, saying she can’t express a view on a precedent one way or another because it would “signal to litigants” how she might rule in a case. 

Feinstein called her response “distressing” and pressed Barrett to answer the question again.

“Senator, I completely understand why you are asking the question. But again, I can’t pre-commit or say, yes, I’m going in with some agenda, because I’m not, I don’t have any agenda,” Barrett said. “I have an agenda to stick to the rule of law and decide cases as they come.” 

Barrett talks precedent regarding abortion

Barrett says she owns a gun, but can rule on Second Amendment fairly

In response to a question from Graham, Barrett said that her family does own a gun, but that she would be able to set aside her views on gun ownership in ruling on the Second Amendment. 

She made a similar comment about her Catholic faith, saying, “I can, I have done that in my time on the 7th Circuit. If I stay on the 7th Circuit, I’ll continue to do that. If I’m confirmed to the Supreme Court, I will do that still.” 

Graham voices interest in campaign finance reform after being outraised in Senate race

Graham told Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., he’s getting closer to him on the issue of campaign finance. 

“I don’t know what’s going on out there, but I can tell you there’s a lot of money being raised in this campaign,” said Graham, whose Democratic opponent Jaime Harrison raised $57 million in one three-month period, more than any Senate candidate ever.

“I’d like to know where the hell some of it’s coming from, but that’s not your problem,” Graham said. 

Biden says he is not a fan of expanding Supreme Court

After coming under fire from President Donald Trump and Republicans about whether he backed expanding the Supreme Court to more than nine justices, Joe Biden said Monday that he’s “not a fan of court packing.”

“I’ve already spoken on — I’m not a fan of court packing, but I don’t want to get off on that whole issue. I want to keep focused,” the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee said in an interview with Cincinnati’s WKRC.

The former vice president said Trump’s decision to quickly fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg ahead of the election is the “court packing” that he wants people to pay attention to.

“The focus is why is he doing what he’s doing now? Why now with less than 24 days to go until the election?” he said. “That’s the court packing … the public should be focused on.”

Biden’s comments Monday were his clearest on the issue since Ginsburg’s death and come as he and Harris have been hit with a barrage of GOP attacks and have deflected numerous questions from the press in recent weeks about whether they would expand the Supreme Court.

Barrett says she would listen to both sides if she hears case challenging Roe v. Wade

Graham brought up Roe v. Wade and explained that unlike Brown v. Board of Education, there are states passing strict abortion laws challenging the 1973 landmark decision. 

Asked if she would listen to both sides if such a case came before the Supreme Court, Barrett said, “Of course. I’ll do that in every case.” 

Where does Barrett stand on Brown v. Board of Education?

In response to a question from Graham about Brown v. Board of Education, Barrett said that she considers it a “superprecedent.” 

Barrett said that a superprecedent is “a precedent that is so well established that it would be unthinkable that it would ever be overruled.”

She said that there would have to be a case and a controversy for the Supreme Court to revisit the landmark 1954 decision. 

“I do not see that happening anytime soon,” she said. 

Graham begins his round of questioning by bashing Obamacare

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., chairman of the Judiciary Committee, began his time for questions by bashing Obamacare, as Democrats have warned that Barrett’s confirmation would result in the reversal of the health care law. 

“All of you want to impose Obamacare in South Carolina — we don’t want it,” Graham said. “We want South Carolina-care, not Obamacare.”

Graham, who faces a competitive re-election race against Democrat Jaime Harrison, said that if it were up to him, he would “block grant this money, send it back to the states and in a more fair allocation.” 

“And we would require pre-existing conditions to be covered as part of the block grant,” he said. 

Graham then asked Barrett what she means to be an originalist. She said that she interprets the Constitution as having “the meaning that it had at the time people ratified it,” and that “meaning doesn’t change over time and it’s not up to me to update it or infuse my own policy views into it.”

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