Magistrate Amy Coney Barrett, chosen by Donald Trump to enter the Supreme Court, vowed on Tuesday to keep her faith out of her work as a judge, but refused to deliver her opinion on the ruling that legalized women’s rights to abort in the United States.
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On the contrary, she hinted before the senators responsible for confirming her appointment that this 1973 decision, entitled Roe V. Wade, was not set in stone.
“Roe is not a super-precedent,” she said, distinguishing him from other past decisions that are no longer the subject of any challenge. “That does not mean that it should be canceled,” however, took care to add the 48-year-old magistrate, personally opposed to abortion.
Donald Trump appointed her on September 26 to replace progressive icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died eight days earlier and relies on the Republican majority in the Senate to validate her choice before the November 3 election.
After a first day devoted to general statements, the upper house of Congress held a marathon question-and-answer session on Tuesday which, while remaining courteous, once again illustrated the deep divisions created by his candidacy.
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Like the day before, the Republican elected officials of the Senate Judiciary Commission portrayed a “brilliant”, “qualified” judge, an “exceptional woman”.
But Democratic senators hinted that it was put into orbit by wealthy Conservative lobbies to promote their goals. This hearing “is a puppet theater” and “external forces pull the strings”, said Sheldon Whitehouse.
Judge Barrett hammered home her independence, repeatedly saying “have no political goals”. “I made no promises to anyone”, “my boss is the rule of law”, she again vowed.
“Our faith is important to us,” she continued, mentioning her husband and her seven children, two of whom were adopted from Haiti and a youngest with Down’s syndrome. “But these are my choices”, and “I never tried to impose them” on others, she assured.
Pressed by several Democratic senators to give her opinion on the judgment that legalized the right of women to have an abortion, she however kicked in touch. “Whether I say that I love him or that I hate him, it will send a signal while the appeals are pending,” explained the magistrate, before shying away in the same way on the subject of firearms, or the legalization of same-sex marriage.
The Democratic dean in the Senate considered “worrying not to have a clear answer”, but refrained from reiterating the criticisms she had issued three years ago during a first hearing of Ms. Barrett.
“Religious dogma lives noisily in you,” then launched Dianne Feinstein, but the formula had turned against her and had increased the aura of the judge in traditionalist Christian circles.
In a country where a quarter of the population is atheist or without religion, Donald Trump’s rival, Joe Biden, had urged his troops not to advance on this minefield.
Instead, Democrats took a different tack: ex-President Barack Obama’s signature health insurance law.
Republicans have stepped up attempts to cancel “Obamacare” and one of their appeals is due to be examined in November at the Supreme Court. If Judge Barrett, who has in the past criticized this law, is confirmed by then, millions of Americans risk losing their health coverage, assured opposition officials.
“I am not hostile” to this law nor “on a mission to destroy it,” she replied Tuesday.
More broadly, she said she had made “no commitment” with the White House or the Senate on how she would settle sensitive issues, including possible post-election disputes.
“I will not let myself be used as a pawn in this election,” she said.
His questioning is to continue until Thursday and the final Senate vote is expected to take place at the end of October.
If Judge Barrett is confirmed, the temple of law will have six out of nine Conservative judges, a solid majority that could carry Donald Trump’s impact on the United States beyond his presidency (s).