WASHINGTON (AP) — Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett declared Monday that Americans “deserve an independent Supreme Court that interprets our Constitution and laws as they are written,” encapsulating her conservative approach to the law that has Republicans excited about the prospect of her taking the place of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before Election Day.
Barrett spoke about her judicial philosophy, her experience and her large family at the end of the first day of her fast-tracked confirmation hearings that Senate Democrats are using to try and brand her a threat to Americans’ health care during the coronavirus pandemic.
After sitting in silence through nearly four hours of opening statements from members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the 48-year-old federal appeals court judge laid out her approach to the bench, which she has likened to that of her conservative mentor, the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
“Courts have a vital responsibility to the rule of rule of law, which is critical to a free society. But courts are not designed to solve every problem or right every wrong in our public life,” Barrett said in a statement she delivered after removing the protective mask she wore most of the day.
“The policy decisions and value judgments of government must be made by the political branches elected by and accountable to the people. The public should not expect courts to do so, and courts should not try,.”
She told senators that she is “forever grateful” for Ginsburg’s trailblazing path as a woman on the court.
Yet Sen. Kamala Harris, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s running mate, said the court is “often the last refuge for equal justice” and a Barrett nomination puts in jeopardy everything Ginsburg fought to protect.
Testifying from her office because of the pandemic, Harris said that not only health care but voting rights, workers’ rights, abortion rights and the very idea of justice are at stake.
Republicans called Barrett a thoughtful judge with impeccable credentials.
Barring a dramatic development, Republicans appear to have the votes to confirm her to a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court. If she is confirmed quickly, she could be on the court when it hears the latest challenge to the Affordable Care Act, a week after the election.