Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett is pro-life and a devout Catholic, Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said early Wednesday, in an approving monologue.
“I think it’s pretty clear to everybody who has been watching these hearings that you and your family are pro-life, that you are a practicing Catholic, and you adhere to the tenants of your faith,” Graham said just after the third day of committee hearings dealing with Barrett’s nomination opened in Washington.
“But I hope people also understand that you have made a pledge to the committee and to the country at large that you will set aside whatever religious views you have when it comes time to decide the law,” he added, citing a case Barrett, a federal judge, dealt with concerning access for protesters to abortion clinics, Price v. City of Chicago.
Barrett faced questioning from senators on the committee from 9 a.m. to nearly 8 p.m. on Tuesday. A number of Democrats pressed her on how she’s ruled on cases involving abortion, among other matters, and raised questions about how her faith has and would influence her judicial rulings.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the committee’s top Democrat, asked Barrett if she agrees with the judge’s mentor, late Justice Antonin Scalia, that Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a key abortion access ruling that upheld Roe v. Wade, was wrongly decided.
Barrett cited how then-Supreme Court nominee Elana Kagan declined to grade precedent, adding: “I think in an area where precedent continues to be pressed and litigated, as is true of Casey, it would actually be wrong and a violation of the canons for me to do that as a sitting judge.”
Judge Amy Coney Barrett testifies during the third day of her Senate confirmation hearing to the Supreme Court on Capitol Hill in Washington on Oct. 14, 2020. (Michael Reynolds/Pool via Reuters)
In another back-and-forth, Barrett said she can set aside her Catholic beliefs regarding any issue that comes before her.
“I have done that in my time on the Seventh Circuit. If I stay on the Seventh Circuit, I’ll continue to do that. If I’m confirmed to the Supreme Court, I will do that still,” she told Graham.
Democrats have worked to portray Barrett as a definite vote to overturn rulings like Casey, tying the issue to her faith. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) was among those pushing back on trying to make the hearings a referendum on Catholicism, telling the chamber on Monday that the efforts are “a religious test,” which the Constitution forbids.
Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) targeted Barrett on her signing onto a 2006 newspaper ad that called for opposition to “abortion on demand” and described the legacy of Roe v. Wade as “barbaric.” She also later signed onto a second ad that called for the protection of unborn children.
Without clear answers on her position on pro-life and pro-choice arguments, senators “are left with the positions you have already taken,” Hirono said.
During questioning of them-Supreme Court nominee Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 1993, Ginsburg told senators that “when government controls that decision for her, she is being treated less than a fully adult human responsible for her own choices,” Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), the vice-presidential nominee, told Barrett.
“Justice Ginsburg did not tell the committee how she would vote in any particular case but she did freely discuss how she viewed a woman’s right to choose. Judge Barrett, your record clearly shows you hold a different view,” Harris added.
Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) is seen on a television screen asking questions via video link of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, in Washington on Oct. 14, 2020. (Patrick Semansky/Pool/Getty Images)
Graham challenged that on Wednesday, saying Barrett has been candid with senators.
“I think Justice Ginsburg established the Ginsburg rule for a reason, but what she cited in terms of evidence of candor was a very articulate statement by Justice Ginsburg as to why she embraced the pro-choice point of view. That’s not being candid about the law. That is being candid about who you are,” Graham said.
That’s when he made the statement about Barrett being pro-life and Catholic.
“So I am highly confident that you will judge every American based on their case, not the law of Amy,” he said.
“I have never been more proud of the nominee than I am of you. You have been candid to this body about who you are and what you believe. You’ve been reassuring in your disposition and this is history being made, folks,” he added later.
“This is the first time in American history that we’ve nominated a woman who is unashamedly pro-life and embraces her faith without apology and she is going to the court. A seat at the table is waiting on you and it will be a great signal to all young women who share your view of the world, that there is a seat at the table for them.”