“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,” Barrett said at the second day of confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The 48 year old appellate court judge, nominated by President Trump and on track for quick confirmation before the Nov. 3 election, also declined to commit to recusing herself from any cases arising from that election.
“I can’t offer an opinion on recusal without short-circuiting that entire process,” she said.
Barrett was on Capitol Hill for a second day of hearings, the democrats acted fast, quickly shifting the calm energy to a more confrontational tone from opening day.
President Trump has said he wants the ninth member on the court to handle any cases that may arise. But Barrett said it would be a “gross violation” of judicial independence to make a commitment on how she’d rule. She insisted she has not spoken to the president or his team about how she would handle such cases.
Earlier, a frustrated Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the panel, all but implored the nominee to be more specific about how she would deal with landmark abortion cases, including Roe v. Wade and the follow-up Pennsylvania case Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which confirmed it in large part.
“It’s distressing not to get a good answer,” Feinstein told the judge.
Barrett told the senator she could not pre-commit to an approach.
“I don’t have an agenda to try to overrule Casey,” the judge said. “I have an agenda to stick to the rule of law and decide cases as they come.”
The committee chairman, Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., gave the session under coronavirus protocols with questions focusing on health care and ending the Affordable Care Act.
Graham also quickly asked if the judge would be able to shelve her personal beliefs to adhere to law.
“I can. I have done that," she said. “I will do that still.”
"I will do everything I can to make sure that you have a seat at the table. And that table is the Supreme Court,” Graham said.