LIVE STREAM: Senators get second chance to question Barrett at Wednesday's confirmation hearing

Democrats get their last chance to try to pin down President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee,...

Posted: Oct 14, 2020 8:51 AM
Updated: Oct 14, 2020 8:54 AM

Democrats get their last chance to try to pin down President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, on Wednesday with a second lengthy day of questions in the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings.

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Barrett spent more than 11 hours before the committee on Tuesday, where Democrats pressed her on everything from the upcoming Supreme Court case challenging the Affordable Care Act to whether she would recuse herself on election disputes involving the President that might reach the high court.

On Wednesday, the 22 senators on the Judiciary Committee get a second round of 20 minutes for more questions to the nominee. The committee has scheduled a hearing Thursday to hear from outside witnesses and then is expected to vote on Barrett's nomination next week, putting her on pace for a Senate floor vote by the end of the month -- and ahead of the November 3 election.

Barrett made few missteps during the first round of questions Tuesday, while frequently declining to answer questions about potential cases or past rulings -- citing a standard named for the confirmation hearing of the justice she would replace, the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Barrett also declined to engage with multiple questions from Democrats on whether she agreed that the court's landmark abortion case, Roe v. Wade, had been correctly decided or if the ruling was a precedent that should not be dismantled.

But questions about health care were the most urgent for Democrats, as Barrett could be sitting on the high court when it hears a challenge to the Affordable Care Act on November 10, a week after the election.

On Tuesday, Democrats challenged Barrett's views on the Affordable Care Act and made personal pleas for her to take into account people who could lose their health care coverage if the court strikes down President Barack Obama's signature law.

Democrats argued that Barrett's criticisms of Chief Justice John Roberts' 2012 ruling to uphold Obamacare, which she made before she was appointed to the federal appeals bench in 2017, were a sign that she would try to overturn it.

Barrett insisted that was not the case, saying she had no agenda when it came to the health care law. "I am not here on a mission to destroy the Affordable Care Act," she said. "I'm just here to apply the law and adhere to the rule of law."

Democrats also criticized the President and Senate Republicans for rushing through Barrett's confirmation in the middle of the presidential election and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Republicans have defended Barrett and her qualifications for the high court, accusing Democrats of trying to score political points by attacking her over health care.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham, who is facing his own reelection fight this year, charged Tuesday that "Obamacare has been a disaster for the state of South Carolina."

"We want something better. We want something different," Graham said.

Barrett said she had not discussed any potential Supreme Court cases with the President, his advisers or Senate Republicans during the nomination process. "I've made no commitment to anyone, not in this Senate, not over at the White House, about how I would decide any case," she said.

Democrats sought to tease out more about her views on a number of issues, raising concerns that a high court with Barrett on the bench would endanger abortion rights, gun control laws, voting rights and same-sex marriage, noting that her mentor, the late Antonin Scalia, was in the minority for the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision in 2015 legalizing same-sex marriage.

Barrett largely avoided commenting on those topics, saying they were issues that could be heard before the high court so it would be inappropriate for her to discuss them.

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