Subject to a rolling fire of questions from senators, Justice Amy Coney Barrett, 48, pledged Tuesday to set aside her religious beliefs if upheld in the Supreme Court. She nevertheless refused to give her opinion on several hot topics, such as the right to abortion.
Right to abortion, religion, Obamacare
Faced with the avalanche of subjects tackled by American senators during the second day of hearing for its confirmation to the Supreme Court, the conservative judge of 48 years Amy Coney Barrett tried to reassure by affirming not to mix his personal convictions with his judgments. However, she admitted to possessing a weapon and being attached to the teachings of the Catholic Church.
“Our faith is important to us”, she explained, mentioning her husband and her seven children, two of whom were adopted from Haiti and a youngest with Down’s syndrome.
“But these are my choices”, and “I never tried to impose them” on others, she insisted.
Appointed by Donald Trump to succeed feminist and progressive judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg, she assured to put aside her religious beliefs as a judge at the Federal Court of Appeal in Chicago. “And if I am confirmed, I will continue to do so” at the Supreme Court, she promised.
“No clear answer”
After complimenting her on her children, Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein tried unsuccessfully to get her opinion on the Roe V. Wade decision of 1973, which recognized the right of American women to have an abortion.
“Whether I say that I love him or that I hate him, it will send a signal while appeals are pending”, justified the magistrate, before shying away in the same way on the subject of firearms, or rights of sexual minorities.
The Democratic dean in the Senate judged “worrying not to have a clear answer” but refrained from reiterating the criticisms she had issued three years ago during a first hearing of Amy Coney Barrett.
“Religious dogma lives noisily in you”, then launched Dianne Feinstein, but the formula had turned against it and had increased the aura of the judge in traditionalist Christian circles.
Minority Democrats in the Senate
In a country where a quarter of the population is atheist or without religion, Donald Trump’s rival, Joe Biden, had urged his troops not to advance on this minefield.
“His faith should not be taken into
consideration,” he said on Monday. The Democrats bowed to it Tuesday, maintaining a courteous tone to the magistrate.
The Democrats reserve their spades for the Republican president. They accuse him in particular of advancing at a forced march to extract the confirmation of the judge before the elections of November 3, in contempt of the voters.
But they are in the minority in the Senate and should not succeed, except surprise, in preventing Judge Barrett from cementing the Conservative majority in the Supreme Court – which would, with her, be six out of nine judges.
Without being able to influence the Senate vote, they seem determined to bring back the debates on health issues, central in a country ravaged by the Covid-19. Their angle of attack? The emblematic law of ex-President Barack Obama which granted health coverage to millions of Americans.
“Not hostile” to Obamacare
An appeal against “Obamacare”, brought by Republicans, is to be examined in November by the Supreme Court which, according to Democrats, risks invalidating the law if Judge Barrett participates in the decision. She wants to “get rid of it,” Joe Biden assured Monday.
“I am not hostile” to this law, retorted Tuesday the magistrate without ever departing from her calm nor her smile. “I have never had a conversation with the president or a member of his team on how I could decide this file,” she continued.
More broadly, she said she had made “no commitment” with the White House or the Senate on how she would settle sensitive issues, including possible post-election disputes.