Judge Barrett rules out any compromise with the White House on how it should rule on medical coverage, pregnancy termination or election disputes
The candidate of Donald Trump to the Supreme Court of the United States, the conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett, has submitted this Tuesday to the questions of the senators in the second day of hearings to be confirmed in the position before the elections of November 3 . Barrett has dodged some issues related to abortion and same-sex marriage in order not to show his position on the matter because, he has alleged, he did not want to go to the high court with a pre-established agenda: “I will decide on the cases as they arise” .
The health reform promoted by former President Barack Obama, and contested by Republicans, will be one of the first issues on which the Supreme Court must rule after the presidential elections (it must do so just one week after the elections). But Barrett’s position against abortion has been the issue that has generated the most controversy among a part of the citizenry who fear that their vote could influence the future on this issue. The jurist has always identified as her mentor the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a great critic of the ruling that, in 1973, established jurisprudence by guaranteeing the right to abortion.
It is not the only element that makes defenders of this right suspicious of Barrett’s intentions, although she has not openly shown her convictions on Tuesday. Trump himself promised during the 2016 campaign that, if he wins, he will appoint judges willing to revoke the right to abortion so that it is no longer automatic. He also said then that his goal was to roll back Obama’s health plan, Obamacare.
During Tuesday’s Senate hearing, Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse quoted Trump’s words when he said he planned to choose judges who would reverse the right to abortion. “There is a lot of hypocrisy and haste,” said the senator in reference to Barrett’s appointment, which must be confirmed in these hearings in record time, just 21 days before the elections.
In 2006, Barrett signed a declaration supporting “the right to life from conception to natural death.” The magistrate responded to the Senate Judiciary Committee that she was being consistent with her Catholic faith when she signed the document, but she avoided qualifying the opinion of her former chief Scalia, who died in 2016. Barret argued that it would be inappropriate in his capacity as acting judge to rule on the issue, which is currently being discussed in state courts. He took the opportunity to quote the words of progressive judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died on September 18, and whose vacancy he aspires to fill, at his confirmation hearing in 1993. Ginsburg then said that a judge, who has sworn to make impartial decisions, based solely on in the law, “it cannot offer forecasts or clues” about the cases on which it is going to decide, because that would demonstrate “not only disregard for the details of the particular case, but also a disdain for the entire judicial process.”
Dozens of people have approached the doors of the Senate building these days during Barrett’s confirmation. Since Sunday, a group of women dressed as characters from the popular series The maid’s tale (based on Margaret Atwood’s book) walk around to defend abortion rights and protest Barrett’s appointment. This Monday they met dozens of young people opposed to abortion who went to support the confirmation of the magistrate.
California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein congratulated Barrett on his family of seven children, one with Down syndrome and two adopted from Haiti. He told her that he admired her for it, but regretted her evasiveness to answer about the abortion. “That makes it difficult for me and for other women on this Committee because this is a very important case and it affects millions of women. It could be a very important vote ”. If the Senate confirms Justice Barret will fill the vacancy of Ginsburg, recognized as a feminist defender of women’s rights.
Barrett, who declared without notes on the table until noon, also declined to state whether he disagreed with Scalia in relation to gay marriage, but clarified that he has never discriminated against anyone based on their “sexual preference.” She remarked that, if confirmed, it is a mistake to assume that she will vote as her mentor, since she will be the “judge Barret”, and not the “female version of Scalia”, although they share her interpretation of the Constitution.
Republicans have 53 of the 100 seats in the Senate, enough to reach the simple majority required to confirm Barrett. With his appointment, he would be the sixth Conservative member on the high court – out of a total of nine – and would tip the balance further. Lindsay Graham, chairman of the Upper House Judiciary Committee, said the committee is likely to vote on Thursday next week.
The magistrate said in the Capitol hall that she will put aside her Catholic beliefs when deciding on the cases and promised to interpret the laws “as they are written.” “Political decisions must be made by political representatives, elected by the people and accountable to them,” he defended last Monday. Judge Barret ruled out any compromise with the White House or senators about her possible vote in cases such as medical coverage, pregnancy termination or electoral disputes. “I have not had any conversation with the president or anyone on his team about that case, it would be a complete violation of judicial independence.”
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