Answering questions about voting from Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Judge Amy Coney Barrett said she “can’t recall a time” she voted by mail.
The comment came as the US prepares for the November election, and many Americans are choosing to vote by mail as the coronavirus pandemic continues to grip the nation.
Here’s the exchange:
Klobuchar: We’re in the middle of a global pandemic that is forcing voters to choose between their health and their vote. Are absentee ballots, or better known as mail-in ballots, an essential way to vote for millions of Americans right now?
Barrett: That’s a matter of policy on which I can’t express a view.
Klobuchar: Okay, to me that just feels like a fundamental part of our democracy. But okay, let’s try this. Have you ever voted by mail?
Barrett: Umm, I can’t recall a time that I voted by mail. It may be in college that I did, when I was living away from home. But I can’t as I’m sitting here specifically recall a time I voted by mail.
Klobuchar: Do you have friends or family that have voted by mail or are voting by mail?
Barrett: I have had friends and family vote by mail.
The hearing has gone into a 10-minute recess following what appeared to be a malfunction in Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s mic.
Chair Lindsey Graham said the hearing would return shortly once the issue was resolved.
Senators on the Judiciary Committee have a second day to ask Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett questions today. Yesterday, on the first day of questioning, the committee grilled her during an 11-hour hearing.
Each senator gets 20 minutes to question the judge today. Here are some of the highlights so far:
- On the Affordable Care Act: After facing a barrage of questions over the past two days from Democrats about her past writings and comment taking issue with rulings upholding the Affordable Care Act, Barrett was asked today: “Did you ever write or speak out against the ACA?” Barrett said her past criticism of ACA rulings was when “I was speaking as an academic.” Asked if she’s ever spoken in favor of the ACA, she said, “No, I’ve never had a chance to weigh in on the policy question.”
- On cameras in the court: Barrett was asked how she feels about allowing cameras into the Supreme Court, which historically has not allowed recordings but is currently allowing a live feed of audio as justices work remotely during the pandemic. Barrett agreed to “keep an open mind” about the possibility.
- On presidential pardons: Barrett said that “no one is above the law,” but would not say one way or another if a president has the right to pardon him or herself. On pardons, she said, “that question has never been litigated” and said she couldn’t answer “because it would be opining on an open question when I haven’t gone through the judicial process to decide it, it’s not one in which I can offer a view.”
- On voting: Sen. Amy Klobuchar pressed Barrett on another legal controversy ahead of the election, asking the judge whether mail-in voting was essential for millions of Americans in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. Barrett did not engage, saying she did not recall if she had previously voted by mail. “That’s a matter of policy on which I can’t express a view,” Barrett said.
The Senate Judiciary Committee has returned from break to continue questioning Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.
Senators are now asking Barrett questions.
Each senator on the committee will get 20 minutes to question Barrett. Yesterday, on the first round of questioning, each member had 30 minutes of question time.
Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearing is in a break until 12:30 p.m. ET.
Barrett is facing the Senate Judiciary Committee for a second day of questioning.
The health care law has been a dominant topic so far on both sides of the aisle thanks to the looming November case the Supreme Court will hear on a Republican effort to strike down the law.
After facing a barrage of questions over the past two days from Democrats about her past writings and comment taking issue with rulings upholding the Affordable Care Act, Amy Coney Barrett was asked Wednesday by Sen. Patrick Leahy: “Did you ever write or speak out against the ACA?”
Barrett said her past criticism of ACA rulings was when “I was speaking as an academic.”
Leahy pressed her again on if she’s ever spoken in favor of the ACA. “No, I’ve never had a chance to weigh in on the policy question.”
Barrett, then a University of Notre Dame law professor, wrote in a 2017 law review essay, “Chief Justice Roberts pushed the Affordable Care Act beyond its plausible meaning to save the statute. He construed the penalty imposed on those without health insurance as a tax, which permitted him to sustain the statute as a valid exercise of the taxing power.”
She continued, “Had he treated the payment as the statute did —as a penalty —he would have had to invalidate the statute as lying beyond Congress’s commerce power.”
Democrats have argued during the confirmation hearings that Barrett’s criticisms of Roberts’ 2012 ruling to uphold Obamacare, which she made before she was appointed to the federal appeals bench in 2017, were a sign that she would try to overturn it.
Barrett insisted that was not the case, saying she had no agenda when it came to the health care law. “I am not here on a mission to destroy the Affordable Care Act,” she said. “I’m just here to apply the law and adhere to the rule of law.”
Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett said that “no one is above the law,” but would not say one way or another if a president has the right to pardon him or herself.
Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, referencing President Trump’s claim that he has “the absolute right” to pardon himself first asked Barrett if she believes that no American is above the law.
“I agree. No one is above the law,” Barrett asked.
Then, Leahy asked: “Does a president have an absolute right to pardon himself for a crime? I mean, we heard this question after president Nixon’s impeachment.”
Here’s how Barrett responded:
“Sen. Leahy, so far as I know, that question has never been litigated. That question has never arisen. That question may or may not arise, but it’s one that calls for legal analysis of what the scope of the pardon power is, so because it would be opining on an open question when I haven’t gone through the judicial process to decide it, it’s not one on which I can offer a view.”
Judge Amy Coney Barrett was just asked how she feels about allowing cameras into the Supreme Court.
Barrett, like several other Supreme Court justices, agreed to “keep an open mind” about the possibility.
But once confirmed, that might change: We have seen other justices testify that they are open to the idea, but once they arrive at the marble palace that seems to change.
As things stand, the court is allowing a live feed of audio, as justices work remotely during the pandemic, but it seems very far away from allowing cameras in.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, has announced a set of outside witnesses who will appear before the committee tomorrow, the fourth day and final day of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearing.
The witnesses will discuss the Affordable Care Act, reproductive rights and voting rights, according to Feinstein.
Here are the four witnesses, as described in a news release from Feinstein:
- Stacy Staggs, “a mother of 7-year old twins. Stacy’s twins have multiple pre-existing conditions due to their premature birth and rely on the Affordable Care Act’s protections. Stacy works with Little Lobbyists, a nonprofit started by families with children who have complex medical needs. Stacy will discuss the devastating effects on her family if the Supreme Court overturns the Affordable Care Act.”
- Dr. Farhan Bhatti, “a family physician and CEO of Care Free Medical, a nonprofit clinic. Dr. Bhatti will discuss the harm to his patients if the Supreme Court overturns the Affordable Care Act.”
- Crystal Good, “fought for her right to obtain an abortion at age 16. Crystal will speak about the importance of reproductive rights and justice.”
- Kristen Clarke, “president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Kristen will speak about the importance of voting rights and other civil rights protected by the Constitution and federal law.”