Barrett hearings day 4: Witnesses praise judge’s ‘outstanding competence’

Washington D.C., Oct 15, 2020 / 03:00 pm (CNA).- A former student and clerk of Amy Coney Barrett praised the judge’s character on Thursday, during the Senate Judiciary Committee’s last day of hearings on her nomination to the Supreme Court. 

In addition to witnesses in favor of Barrett’s character and competence, some members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday continued to push to indefinitely delay a vote on the Catholic mother of seven and a former law professor at the University of Notre Dame.

A vote by the committee for Barrett’s confirmation to the court has been scheduled for Oct. 22; if successful, Barrett’s confirmation would then be considered by the entire Senate. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said a vote would be held before election day on Nov. 3.

On Wednesday, CNN reported that several speeches of Barrett’s, delivered while she was a law professor at Notre Dame, were not listed on her paperwork for consideration by the Senate. As part of the committee’s questionnaire for federal judicial nominees, Barrett was required to supply information on her employment history, honors and awards, memberships, and published writings.

Barrett sent her initial responses to the questionnaire on Sept. 29, and on Oct. 9 made additions including a 1994 statement, her appearance in an ad for a pro-life Notre Dame faculty group, and presentations to student groups.

Sen. Dick Blumenthal (D-Conn.) on Thursday morning said the confirmation process was “rushed” and introduced a motion to halt the confirmation proceedings “indefinitely.” The motion failed on a vote of the committee, and witnesses were then introduced to testify for or against Barrett’s confirmation.

Barrett received the approval of the American Bar Association’s (ABA) standing committee on the federal judiciary. The committee’s chair Randall Noel told the senators that Barrett was “well qualified” for the Court due to her “integrity,” “judicial temperament,” and “sufficiently outstanding professional competence.”

Laura Wolk, a former student of Barrett’s at Notre Dame and the first blind woman to clerk at the Supreme Court, called Barrett “one of the kindest individuals I have ever known” and credited Barrett with helping her get the technology she needed to succeed at law school.

Amanda Rauh-Bieri, a former clerk for Barrett on the Seventh Circuit, praised her as “a judge who applies the law fairly and reaches the result that is required—and she writes with empathy and she appreciates the real-life impact of her decisions.”

Other witnesses, opposed to Barrett’s nomination, included a family physician from Michigan who warned of the possible consequences should Barrett rule against the Affordable Care Act as a sitting justice. There is currently a case concerning the law scheduled to be heard by the Court in November.

Following the morning session, ranking minority member Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) was heard on a hot microphone expressing concern about Barrett’s pro-life stance. 

“She’s been pro-life for a long time,” Feinstein can be heard saying. “I suspect with her it is deeply personal and comes with her religion.”

Later in the session, Crystal Good, a West Virginian survivor of sexual abuse and an advocate for other survivors, testified that she had an abortion at age 16 but had to get a judicial bypass order to do so, as the state had a law in place requiring parental consent for minors seeking abortions.

“Please, listen to people who have abortions. Hear us when we ask you, do not confirm this nominee. Our futures, families, and lives depend on it,” she said in her written testimony.

Stacy Staggs of “Little Lobbyists,” the next witness and also opposed to Barrett’s confirmation, shared her story of prematurely giving birth to twins at 28 weeks, crediting the ACA with limiting costs for the care they subsequently received.

Retired Judge Thomas Griffith, formerly of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, insisted that Barrett’s Catholic faith would not influence her decisions on the bench. He pointed to her ruling against pro-life demonstrators in a Chicago “buffer zone” ordinance case.

He acknowledged that some of the scrutiny of her religious beliefs has been “tinged with bigotry.”

“When wearing the robe, there is no conflict between following God and following Caesar. It’s Caesar all the way down,” he said.

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