Amy Coney Barrett, who is President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, continued to impress Americans on the third day of her confirmation hearings. Even Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein who attacked Barrett for the “dogma” living “loudly” within her in 2017, said, “I’m really impressed.”
The tables have turned. Even when the Democratic nominee for vice president, Senator Kamala Harris, tried to trap Barrett in questions about climate change, Barrett promptly and skillfully dealt with her.
Severability is the key issue in the case involving the Affordable Care Act, which is also known as Obamacare. During the hearing, Barrett defined severability effectively and impressed Feinstein.
“It’s designed to effectuate your intent, but you know, severability is designed to say, ‘Well, would Congress still want the statute to stand even with this provision gone? Would Congress have still passed the same statute without it? So, I think, insofar as it tries to effectuate what Congress would have wanted, it’s the Court and Congress working hand-in-hand,” Barrett said.
“Thank you. That’s quite a definition. I’m really impressed, thank you,” Feinstein responded.
After that, it was Kamala Harris’ turn to take a shot at Barrett. Harris tried to trap Barrett, comparing the opinion that human beings are causing climate change to worsen to very clear and proven facts such as COVID-19 being infectious and smoking causing cancer. Barrett had sensed a trap and avoided it deftly.
“Do you accept that COVID-19 is infectious?” Harris asked.
Barrett responded, “Um, I think yes, I do accept that COVID-19 is infectious, that that’s something of which I feel like we could say you take judicial notice of. It’s an obvious fact, yes.”
“Do you accept that smoking causes cancer?” Harris pressed.
“I’m not sure exactly where you’re going with this…” Barrett began.
Harris would have none of it and cut her off. “The question is what it is, you can answer it… yes or no?”
“Senator Harris, yes, every package of cigarettes warns that smoking causes cancer,” Barrett answered.
Then came Harris’ trap: “And do you believe that climate change is happening and is threatening the air we breathe and the water we drink?”
“Senator, again, I was wondering where you were going with that,” Barrett said. “You have asked me a series of questions that are completely uncontroversial like whether COVID-19 is infectious, whether smoking causes cancer, and then trying to analogize that to elicit an opinion from me that is on a very contentious matter of public debate.”
She added, “And I will not do that. I will not express a view on a matter of public policy, especially one that is politically controversial, because that’s inconsistent with the judicial role, as I’ve explained.”