Crime & Justice

Trump’s Supreme Court nominee ducks questions about abortion, election

Washington, Oct 13 (efe-epa).- Amy Coney Barrett, US President Donald Trump’s choice to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by the death last month of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, spent much of Tuesday’s Senate confirmation hearing turning aside questions from Democrats about abortion and whether she would recuse herself if a dispute over the Nov. 3 election came before the court.

“Judges cannot just wake up one day and say, ‘I have an agenda. I like guns. I hate abortion,’ and walk in like a royal queen and impose their will on the world,” the 48-year-old mother of seven told the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Barrett, a former law professor who became a federal appellate judge in 2017, insisted that she would “apply the law as the law.”

“I have made no commitment to anyone, not in the Senate, not over at the White House, about how I would decide any case,” she said.

With Trump’s fellow Republicans in control of the Senate, there is little the Democrats can do to prevent or significantly delay Barrett’s taking her place on the court before the election.

Given that, their strategy is focused on using the televised hearings to give voters an idea of what is at stake in the presidential contest between Trump and Democrat Joe Biden, who served as vice president for eight years under Barack Obama.

Barrett is a conservative and a devout Catholic and several of the Democrats sought to draw her out on the issue of the 1973 Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade, which made abortion legal in the United States.

The nominee declined to say whether she thought the court ruled correctly or not in the landmark abortion rights case.

“I have an agenda to stick to the rule of law and decide cases as they come,” she said.

Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont asked Barrett about an ad she signed in 2006 that denounced the “barbaric legacy” of Roe v. Wade.

She said that she and her husband signed the statement while leaving church.

“There was a table set up for people on their way out of Mass to sign a statement validating their commitment to the position of the Catholic Church on life issues,” Barrett said. “The statement that I signed was affirming the protection of life from conception to natural death.”

She stressed that she was a private citizen in 2006.

“Now I am a public official, so while I was free to express my private views at that time, I don’t feel like it is appropriate for me anymore because of the canons of conduct to express an affirmative view at this point in time,” the nominee said.

A major part of the Democratic message in opposing Barrett consists of warning that she would rule against the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in a case scheduled to reach the Supreme Court early next month.

The ACA was the major domestic policy initiative of Obama’s 2009-2017 administration.

During his turn questioning Barrett, Delaware Sen. Chris Coons pointed to an article she wrote as a law professor for Notre Dame University in which she faulted Chief Justice John Roberts for joining the liberals on the Supreme Court to uphold the constitutionality of the ACA.

The nominee responded by again drawing a contrast between the role of a private citizen and that of a judge.

“I have no hostility to the ACA. If a case came up before me, presenting a different question to the ACA, I would approach it with no bias or hostility,” she said.

Barrett declined to answer when Leahy, pointing to Trump’s public affirmation that he wanted to fill the seat on the Supreme Court to prevent the Democrats from “stealing” the election, asked if she would recuse herself if a dispute over the Nov. 3 ballot reached the court.

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