Blog, Vacancy Watch

Vacancy Watch: Barrett Hearing Day 3, Part 1

October 14, 2020

AFJ is committed to keeping you informed about our fight to keep Trump from stealing #OurCourt.

Wednesday kicked off the second day of questioning for Amy Coney Barrett. Here are some highlights from the first part of the day.

NO ANSWERS IN SIGHT: Amy Coney Barrett spent Wednesday morning evading questions. She refused to answer Sen. Patrick Leahy’s questions about whether a president can defy a court order or if the president can pardon himself. She twice refused to answer, including under questioning from Sen. Dick Durbin, whether the president can arbitrarily move the election — the date of which is set in law by Congress.

CORNERED ON VOTING RIGHTS: Sen. Durbin also drilled down into Barrett’s dissent that would have allowed a felon to still purchase firearms. In it, she wrote that there is a different — higher — standard for imposing on “individual rights” like possessing a gun than for “civic rights” like voting and jury service. Durbin was not convinced by Barrett’s attempts to express support for voting rights given that double standard in her dissent:

NO POLITICAL LITMUS TEST: Sen. Ted Cruz said with a straight face that Senate Republicans are not trying to pack the court with extreme conservatives, but a quick glance at the records of Trump’s nominees — across almost every issue — easily disproves that claim.

GOOD OL’ DAYS: In his opening questioning, Sen. Lindsey Graham asked Barrett, “You’re not aware of any effort to go back to the good old days of segregation by a legislative body, is that correct?” The comment comes just a week after Graham said of South Carolina, “If you’re a young, African American or an immigrant, you can go anywhere in this state, you just need to be conservative, not liberal.”

SURPRISING LACK OF ETHICS: Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse noted in his questioning that the Supreme Court is not obligated to follow any official code of ethics like the lower courts and that ethics investigations end when a nominee is elevated to the Supreme Court. Barrett assured him that she was not subject to any such investigations, but she did express surprise that there was a lower standard of financial disclosure requirements for Supreme Court justices than for the lower courts. AFJ has long advocated for the Supreme Court to be subjected to the same robust code of ethics.

Stay tuned for more updates from the hearings.

Make sure to follow AFJ on Twitter @AFJustice and check back for regular updates on the fight to #BlockBarrett.