The Senate Judiciary Committee began its confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett on Monday. Here are some notes about Barrett and the confirmation hearing process, as of Tuesday evening.
What is a confirmation hearing?
A confirmation hearing is a meeting held by the Senate to interview a nominated candidate for federal office. The candidate, in this case Barrett, is nominated by the president. The hearing process lasts for four days, beginning at 9 a.m. each day.
Who is Amy Coney Barrett?
Barrett is an attorney who currently serves as a circuit judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (meaning she has jurisdiction over Illinois). She taught Constitutional law and statutory interpretation (the process by which courts interpret and apply legislation) at Notre Dame Law School from 2002-2017. Before that, she worked as a judicial law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia from 1998-1999.
What is she being nominated for?
Barrett is being nominated to be a Supreme Court Justice, filling the slot left by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died last month. Supreme Court Justices serve as judges in the highest court in the country, and interpret the Constitution to rule on cases brought before them. Supreme Court rulings usually set legal precedent, meaning that their rulings on certain cases may decide how future similar cases are ruled.
What are Barrett’s beliefs?
Barrett opposes abortion and has been critical of the Affordable Care Act. She considers herself a textualist and originalist in regards to the Constitution, meaning that she believes that the meaning of the Constitution is interpreted from its original text and meaning at the time it was written.
What has Barrett said so far in the hearing?
Barrett has refused to give her views on abortion, Roe v. Wade, the Affordable Care Act and a potential post-election Trump v. Biden case during the hearing, but was adamant that she would not “pre-commit” to any rulings. Notable comments include:
- “I have no agenda to try to overrule (Planned Parenthood v.) Casey.”
- “I can’t offer a legal conclusion right now about the outcome of the decision I would reach (on a case of an election dispute going to the Supreme Court).”
- “(I’m) not here on a mission to destroy the Affordable Care Act. I’m just here to apply the law and adhere to the rule of law.”
- “I can’t really speak to what the president has said on Twitter.”
- “I’m 100% committed to judicial independence from political pressure.”
Where can I watch the rest of the hearing?
Some news channels, like CNN and MSNBC, are showing a live feed of the hearing. NPR and The New York Times have livestreams on their websites.
Should I watch the rest of the hearing?
It’s up to you. It may be more convenient to wait to see the results in news or social media, rather than try to understand all the terms being used in the hearing itself. But Barrett’s appointment to the Supreme Court would mean a growth of the conservative majority the Court has, since Ginsburg was more liberal. Even if President Donald Trump is not re-elected, the appointment of Barrett would affect the actions of any presidents going forward, since Supreme Court Justices are appointed for life barring death or impeachment. While you may not want or be able to watch the hearing itself, it’s important to stay updated on the results.