The long, repetitive confirmation hearing of Judge Amy Coney Barrett wound down on Tuesday with one of the more consequential interactions: questioning from Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), the vice presidential nominee.
Harris devoted much of her time to highlighting the potential impact that Barrett’s ascension to the high court would have on the future of the Affordable Care Act. A challenge to the healthcare law is coming before the court on Nov. 10, but Barrett has declined to offer any sense of her opinion or how she would rule.
Harris asked Barrett whether she was aware of President Donald Trump’s statements, prior to her nomination, committing to nominate judges who will strike down the Affordable Care Act.
“I want to be very careful here as I am under oath,” Barrett said. “I don’t recall seeing or hearing those statements, but I don’t know what context they were in, so I guess I can’t definitively give you a yes or no answer.”
She said that she “had never made a commitment” and “had never been asked to make a commitment.”
The interaction between Harris and Barrett was tinged with some tension.
“In deciding whether to uphold government action, do you currently consider the consequences of your rulings on people’s lives?” Harris asked.
“Well, Senator Harris, that is part of the decision of every case,” she responded.
“And so you do?” Harris said.
“Every case has consequences in people’s lives, and so of course I do in every case. That is part of the decision-making process,” Barrett said.
The Democrats focus on healthcare during the hearings gels with one of their central campaign themes, and Harris crafted her time as a mix of political stump speech and prosecutorial query.
“So if the Affordable Care Act is struck down, more than a hundred million Americans with pre-existing conditions like heart disease, diabetes and cancer would pay more for insurance or be denied coverage entirely. More 20 million Americans could lose their health coverage entirely, including nearly 3 million Black Americans and 5 million Latino Americans received access to health insurance because of the Affordable Care Act.”
She went on. “Judge Barrett, would you consider the 135 million people who gained protections under the Affordable Care Act when deciding a case that challenges that law.”
Barrett responded, “Senator Harris, if I were to be confirmed and conclude that I was able to sit on a case pursuant to the recusal statute, then if I heard the case and decided the case, I would consider all the protections that Congress put in place.”
Throughout the day, Barrett declined to say how she would rule on potential cases before the court, including the challenge to the healthcare law. She also refrained from stating her views on issues like Roe vs. Wade.
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