“I’ve made no commitment to anyone, not in this Senate, not over at the White House, about how I would decide any case,” said Barrett.
Barrett, who would replace the late liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, said Tuesday that she shared the same judicial philosophy as the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, who she clerked for in the 1990s and pioneered the practice of adhering to legal text and the original intentions of those who drafted the Constitution. But she made clear to distinguish herself from her mentor.
“I want to be careful to say that if I’m confirmed, you would not be getting Justice Scalia, you would be getting Justice Barrett,” she said.
Here are some takeaways from the first day of questioning.
Barrett declined to preview her views on abortion and Roe v. Wade
Barrett repeatedly declined to give her views on high-profile, contentious issues like abortion rights and the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. She was repeatedly asked about her views of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark case establishing a constitutional right to abortion, and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which reaffirmed its central holding in 1992.
“I don’t have any agenda,” said Barrett. “I have no agenda to try to overrule Casey. I have an agenda to stick to the rule of law and decide cases as they come.”
“I will obey all the rules of stare decisis,” she later added, referring to the principle of adhering to past cases.
After posing a series of questions on the Supreme Court’s abortion rulings, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the panel’s top Democrat, said it was “distressing not to get a straight answer” from Barrett.
Says she’s ‘not hostile’ to Obamacare, but doesn’t elaborate on upcoming case
Barrett also rejected Democratic senators’ questions on the Affordable Care Act, citing Ginsburg’s response to answering hypothetical questions during her hearing in 1993. “No hints, no previews, no forecasts,” said Barrett.
Democrats, however, were undeterred, repeatedly raising the upcoming case and warning the law is in danger. Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin put up a chart showing state by state how many Americans would lose their insurance if the court terminated the 2010 health care law after it hears a case on November 10.
Barrett acknowledged on Tuesday that she did “critique” Roberts’ reasoning, but attempted to assure Democrats by saying that the court’s upcoming case concerns a different legal doctrine known as severability, or whether the entire law can stand if one part of it is deemed illegal, even though the Trump administration is seeking to strike down the entire law.
“I am not hostile to the ACA,” she said.
“I am not here on a mission to destroy the Affordable Care Act,” Barrett added later on. “I’m just here to apply the law and adhere to the rule of law.”
Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck…