Barrett argued that prior to being appointed to the Supreme Court, she was not aware of her public statements. “I don’t remember hearing or seeing any such statements,” Barrett said.
Harris asked how many months after Barrett wrote an article criticizing John Roberts’ decision upholding the Affordable Care Act, she received her appointment for her post on the appeals court.
“The Affordable Care Act and all of its protections rest on that seat,” Harris said.
“I hope the committee would trust my integrity,” Barrett said, noting, as she did throughout the hearings, that she made no commitment to speak out in some way on the law on health care.
The claim, and Barrett’s implication that she somehow dismissed the president’s public and strong judgment for the judges he would appoint, is hard to believe.
Harris, the former California attorney general, is famous for her interrogation style. His pointed questioning of Donald Trump’s last candidate for the Supreme Court – now Justice Brett Kavanaugh – has helped raise his political profile.
Harris also touched on Barrett’s take on abortion, carefully arguing that despite Barrett’s ambiguity and insistence that she is impartial on the issue of reproductive rights, she is far from it.
Barrett was a member of a “right to life” organization that in 2016 promoted an emergency pregnancy center in South Bend, Indiana, which was criticized for misleading and misdirecting vulnerable women seeking to have an abortion. She signed an ad in a newspaper labeling Roe v Wade – the landmark 1973 ruling protecting the right to choose – “barbaric.” A 2013 Notre Dame Magazine article describes a series of lectures in which Barrett “spoke… of his own belief that life begins at conception”.
As a federal judge, she reviewed three laws restricting abortion and expressed doubts about decisions that invalidated the laws. She joined the dissent against a decision to repeal an abortion rule in Indiana – signed by Mike Pence when the vice president was governor of Indiana – requiring that fetal remains be buried or incinerated.
“I would suggest that we don’t pretend that we don’t know how this candidate views the right of women to choose or make their own decisions,” Harris said. The Senator noted that Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whom Barrett cited as his role model in refusing to give clues as to how she would vote on future cases, was, unlike Barrett, much more open with her own personal views on the abortion.
Harris didn’t ask Barrett a direct question about Roe v Wade, highlighting the fact that his point of view has already been made clear.
Harris closed by asking to enter the registration letters opposing Barrett’s appointment from the NAACP, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and Planned Parenthood.