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Long Day of Questioning Showed the Motherly & Whip-Smart Sides of Flinty Judge Barrett


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On Tuesday, Judge Amy Coney Barrett survived what will likely be the longest and hardest day of her four-day hearing. But during the 11 hours of questioning by senators, the pro-life Catholic judge had to withstand accusation after accusation that she’ll roll back so-called abortion rights.

Barrett told some doubting Democrat senators, she may be against abortion personally, but that doesn’t mean she’s an automatic vote against it if she reaches the US Supreme Court.

‘Judges Can't Walk in Like a Royal Queen’

As she told the senators, “Judges can’t just wake up one day and say, ‘I have an agenda; I like guns, I hate guns; I like abortion, I hate abortion’ and walk in like a royal queen and impose their will on the world. You have to wait for cases and controversies – which is the language of the Constitution – to wind their way through the process.” 

Iowa Republican Sen. Joni Ernst brought up a case where Barrett ruled for an abortion clinic and against pro-life sidewalk counselors in a bubble zone case.

But the Democrats’ VP nominee Sen. Kamala Harris insisted Roe v. Wade hangs in the balance, claiming that Barrett is such a danger to it.

Harris warned, “Allowing President Trump to determine who fills the seat of Ruth Bader Ginsburg – a champion for women’s rights and a critical vote in so many decisions that sustained the right to choose – poses a threat to safe and legal abortion in our country.”

‘Liar, Liar, Robes on Fire?’

Barrett insisted she’ll stick to her oft-mentioned pledge to be an impartial judge, even in abortion-related cases. 

Louisiana Republican Sen. John Kennedy accused Harris of calling Barrett a liar when suggesting the judge will in no way honor her oath of impartiality.

So Kennedy had this quick exchange with Barrett:

KENNEDY:  “Are you lying?”

BARRETT:   “I’m not lying.”

KENNEDY:   “Are you going to take that oath and abide by it?”

BARRETT:   “Yes, sir.”

KENNEDY:  “Will you ever break that oath?”

BARRETT:   “I will not break that oath.”  

Being Pro-Life or Pro-Choice Shouldn’t Keep You from Judging 

Court observer John Malcolm of the Heritage Foundation told CBN News, “Just because you happen to be pro-life or pro-choice…your personal beliefs should not be disqualifying in terms of being a judge, any more than if you happen to like Obamacare or don’t like Obamacare should have any bearing on whether or not you can determine whether the law itself is constitutional.”

Asked if she’d rule like her mentor Antonin Scalia to roll back gay rights, Barrett said that’s not to be assumed.

“I have never discriminated on the basis of sexual preference,” she stated. “And would not discriminate on the basis of sexual preference. Like racism, I consider discrimination abhorrent.”

Grinding Their Teeth as Conservative Barrett Quotes Liberal Ginsburg

One thing that seems to really bother liberals is they feel the conservative Barrett is the direct opposite of the woman she’ll replace: the most liberal of Supreme Court justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

And Barrett added insult to injury by defending her refusal throughout the day to say how she’d rule on cases by quoting Ginsburg.

She said, “Justice Ginsburg with her characteristic pithiness used this to describe how a nominee should comport herself at a hearing: 'no hints, no previews, no forecasts'.”

She Shouldn’t Answer; They Shouldn’t Ask

Legal analyst John Shu, who worked in both Bush administrations, pointed out the senators should not have been pushing Barrett all day to comment on how she’d rule on cases when that’s actually forbidden.

“No judicial nominee is allowed to answer a hypothetical about any kind of case that could conceivably appear before the particular court for which that nominee is being nominated,” Shu insisted.

George Floyd’s Troublesome Death Hit Barrett’s Adopted Daughter Hard

One moment while discussing the George Floyd killing provided an intimate look into Barrett’s home life.

Barrett said she was with, “My 17-year-old daughter, Vivian, who was adopted from Haiti – and all this was erupting. It was very difficult for her. We wept together.” 

The judge said of her seven kids, “My children to this point in their lives had the benefit of growing up in a cocoon where they had not yet experienced hatred or violence.”

So she said it was hard, “For Vivian to understand that there would be a risk to her brother or the son she might have one day of that kind of brutality. It has been an ongoing conversation. And it’s a difficult one for us like it is for Americans all over the country.”  

The Blank Notepad

A light moment came when Barrett showed she could discuss dozens of cases over 11 hours of hard questioning without even one note of backup.

Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn was pawing through piles of paperwork around him as he began his questioning of the judge, and he asked, “Most of us have multiple notebooks and books and things like that in front of us. Can you hold up what you’ve been referring to in answering our questions?” 

She held up a thin, blank notepad sitting in front of her.

Cornyn asked, “Is there ANYthing on it?” 

Barrett replied, “That letterhead that says ‘United States Senate.’”

Malcolm told CBN News those kinds of smarts earned the judge praise for her brilliance from every single clerk who was at the Supreme Court at the same time she also clerked there back in 1998 and 1999.  

And he added, “One of her biggest supporters has been Noah Feldman, who is a very, very liberal law professor at Harvard, who clerked at the same time that she did. He said, ‘I may disagree with every ruling that she ever comes out with, but she is certainly smart enough and has the integrity to serve as a justice on the Supreme Court.’”

Has She Kicked a Puppy?

Barrett appears to be sailing unscathed through the confirmation process, but Shu warns both Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh got through this questioning stage just fine. The shock was what the Democrats hit them with after that.  

“Maybe they’ll have to accuse Judge Barrett of either cannibalism or kicking a puppy at some point in her life,” Shu said with a smirk.  “That’s a joke. I hope they’d never do it. But you never know.”

Committee members get one more round of questions, then it will be witnesses on Thursday, which is also when chairman Lindsey Graham says he will set a vote. 

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About The Author


As a freelance reporter for CBN's Jerusalem bureau and during 27 years as senior correspondent in CBN's Washington bureau, Paul Strand has covered a variety of political and social issues, with an emphasis on defense, justice, government, and God’s providential involvement in our world. Strand began his tenure at CBN News in 1985 as an evening assignment editor in Washington, D.C. After a year, he worked with CBN Radio News for three years, returning to the television newsroom to accept a position as a senior editor in 1990. Strand moved back to the nation's capital in 1995 and then to