Agency Report– President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, said on Tuesday she gave no commitments to the White House on how she would rule on Obamacare or election-related cases and declined to say if she believed landmark rulings legalizing abortion and gay marriage were properly decided.
During 11 hours of questioning on the second day of her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing, Barrett opted not to say whether she would step aside from taking part in a major Obamacare case to be argued on Nov. 10 or in any disputes arising from the Nov. 3 election – as Democrats have requested.
The marathon session gave the conservative U.S. appellate judge a chance to respond to Democrats who oppose her because they fear she will cast a decisive vote in striking down the 2010 healthcare law formally called the Affordable Care Act and its protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
“I am not here on a mission to destroy the Affordable Care Act,” Barrett said. “I’m just here to apply the law and adhere to the rule of law.”
While Democrats were persistent in their questioning, the hearing retained a respectful tone and Barrett remained even-tempered while nimbly sidestepping questions on her views on abortion, LGBT rights, gun control and voting rights.
In the Obamacare case, Trump and Republican-led states are seeking to invalidate the law. Barrett said the case centered on a different legal issue from two previous Supreme Court rulings that upheld Obamacare that she has criticized.
Senator Kamala Harris, who is Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s running mate, was not satisfied with Barrett’s answers, saying Americans were fearful that Obamacare would be overturned in the middle of a deadly pandemic.
“Republicans are scrambling to confirm this nominee as fast as possible because they need one more Trump judge on the bench before Nov. 10 to win and strike down the entire Affordable Care Act,” said Harris, a Judiciary Committee member.
The law, signed by Trump’s Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama, has enabled millions of Americans to obtain medical coverage.
Trump has asked the Senate, controlled by his fellow Republicans, to confirm Barrett before Election Day. Trump has said he expects the Supreme Court to decide the election’s outcome as he faces Biden.
Barrett said no one at the White House sought a commitment from her on how she would rule on that or any other issue.
In declining to commit to stepping aside on politically charged cases in light of her nomination so near an election and comments made by Trump on the issues, Barrett said she would follow rules giving justices the final say on recusal amid questions about impartiality.
Republicans have a 53-47 Senate majority, making Barrett’s confirmation a virtual certainty. If confirmed, Barrett, 48, would give conservatives a 6-3 Supreme Court majority. She is Trump’s third Supreme Court nominee.
The hearing resumes at 9 a.m. (1300 GMT) on Wednesday.