Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett addresses religious beliefs, abortion
Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett on Tuesday told senators she would not rule like “a royal queen” and would set aside her religious beliefs when judging cases, including on abortion.
Barrett, a judge on the US Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, took her first confirmation hearing questions from Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, who raised the hot topic.
“Judges can’t just wake up one day and say, ‘I have an agenda. I like guns, I hate guns. I like abortion, I hate abortion,’ and walk in like a royal queen and impose their will on the world. You have to wait for cases and controversies, which is the language of the Constitution, to wind their way through the process,” she said.
Graham (R-SC) asked Barrett, “Can you set aside whatever Catholic beliefs you have regarding any issue before you?”
Barrett replied: “I can. I have done that in my time on the 7th Circuit. If I stay on the 7th Circuit. I’ll continue to do that. If I’m confirmed to the Supreme Court, I will do that still.”
Barrett, 48, mentioned two Supreme Court precedents involving abortion, the 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade and the 1992 ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
“I think most people think of Roe v. Wade, and the Casey case after Roe that preserved Roe’s central holding, but grounded it in a slightly different rationale … that the state cannot impose an undue burden on a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy,” she said.
Graham told Barrett that he has a bill that would federally ban abortion after five months of pregnancy, and asked if she would listen to both sides.
“Of course, I’ll do that in every case,” she said.
“It’s not, it’s not just a vote, you all do that,” Barrett said. “You all have a policy and you cast a vote. The judicial process is different.”
Barrett, 48, is a favorite among religious conservatives, who gathered outside the Supreme Court on Monday and chanted, “Hey hey! Ho ho! Roe v. Wade has gotta go!”
The judge told Graham that Supreme Court precedent recognizes a substantive due process right to abortion that’s not directly written in the Constitution.
“The substantive due process clause says that there are some liberties, some rights that people possess, that the state can’t take away or can’t take away without a really good reason. So, the right to use birth control the right to abortion are examples of rights protected by substantive due process,” she said.
“The Supreme Court has grounded them in the Constitution, they’re not expressed,” Barrett continued.
“I’m not aware of anybody proposing to throw it over entirely. But there’s certainly a debate about how to define these rights and how far it should go.”
Still, Barrett, a mother of seven, sought to put senators at ease, repeating that she would not seek to impose her views on others.
“I have a life brimming with people who’ve made different choices. And I’ve never tried in my personal life to impose my choices on them,” she said.
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