For the first time on Tuesday, Amy Coney Barrett responded to questions from senators publicly. She was asked about some of the most controversial topics in American life.

The Senate Committee pressed Barrett over her views on abortion, health care, gun rights, and racism. Though she refused to make clear decisions on any of the hot-button issues, her responses helped explain her judiciary philosophy and exposed some of her personal opinions.

Each senator on the committee had 30 minutes to ask questions. It's the longest time they would have to publicly ask Barrett, who seems to be on her way to the Supreme Court's lifetime appointment. 

Confirmation of Barrett, which is highly likely considering the Republican plurality, will secure a conservative 6-3 majority on the Supreme Court for a century.

Several senators and Barrett herself referred to her mentor, the late Justice Antonin Scalia, for Barrett's ideological similarities. However, she said: "If I'm confirmed, you would not be getting Justice Scalia; you'd be getting Justice Barrett."

Here's what we've heard about the views of a future Justice Barrett on these main subjects.


The committee questioned Barrett repeatedly on her abortion views and whether she believes that Roe v. Wade's landmark abortion case was wrongly determined. Barrett did not take a stand on Roe or any precedent for abortion.

She told Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California that she knows abortion is "a controversial issue." But she said the committee's top Democrat that voicing an opinion on the precedent would be inappropriate for her. Yet, she said, "I have no agenda whatsoever. I don't have an agenda to try to overrule Casey."

Barrett told Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota that she does not consider Roe v. Wade to be a "super-precedent" or one of the exceptional cases that.

Barrett is Catholic, and she admitted to Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont that she had previously shared her personal beliefs on the issue.

She said that she signed a statement in 2006 "on the way out of church" and it "was consistent with my church's views."

She noted that she supports the right to life. But she said her personal beliefs would not impact how she handles cases.

"I would follow the law on any topic that comes up, abortion or something else," Barrett said.

Affordable Care Act

Just one week after Election Day, with the Supreme Court expected to hear a case regarding the Affordable Care Act (ACA) constitutionality, Democrats have made health care an essential topic of Barrett's hearing.

In particular, they questioned her about a 2017 article she wrote that criticized the 2012 decision by Chief Justice John Roberts upholding a central part of the ObamaCare.

"I think that your concern is that because I critiqued the statutory reasoning that I'm hostile to the ACA and that because I'm hostile to the ACA that I would decide a case a particular way," she told Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin. Barrett assured she is not hostile to the ACA."

Barrett clarified that the problems posed in the forthcoming case of the Supreme Court, California v. Texas, vary from those on which the court ruled in 2012. Thus, she argued that her remarks from 2017 are not applicable to how she would treat the new case if she had previously confirmed to the Supreme Court. 


On Tuesday, the committee questioned Barrett about racial problems both for her legal opinions and personal ones.

Barrett voted not to consider an appeal by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on the Seventh Circuit in a case where it argued that AutoZone had violated the Civil Rights Act by using race as a factor in assigning workers to various stores.

The three judges who decided to consider the appeal called it a "separate but equal agreement." Feinstein asked Barrett about her vote and what would constitute the appeal. "As a person, do you have a general belief?"

"As a person, I have a general belief that racism is abhorrent," Barrett replied.

Later, Durbin's questioning yielded one of the day's most intimate and emotional responses from Barrett. Durbin asked Barrett if she had seen George Floyd's video of being killed by a white police officer kneeling on his neck and how that video influenced her.

"As you can imagine, considering that I have two Black kids, that was very, very intimate for my family," Barrett said. Out of her seven children, two are adopted from Haiti.

She said racism exists in the country. But she clarified that the situation is beyond she is willing to do as a judge to offer broader statements or make more comprehensive diagnoses about the racism issue. 

When Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey asked her if she was condemning white supremacy, Barrett said, "Yes."


In 2019's Kanter v. Barr, Barrett wrote a dissent on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in which she argued that the government should not strip all felons of their right to possess arms, only those who have proven to be violent.

It has led many to believe that Barrett holds a muscular view of the Second Amendment on both sides of the aisle. In some cases, Barrett indicated a desire to control gun ownership on Tuesday.

"Heller leaves room for gun restrictions," Barrett said, referring to District of Columbia v. Heller, which affirmed the Second Amendment's individual right to bear arms.

In particular, she gave an example, stating that in her opinion, the Second Amendment recognizes the right of the government to keep weapons away.

Barrett said she owns a gun when questioned by South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, the committee chairman. 

2020 Elections

Before the year is out, the Supreme Court will need to adjudicate election-related issues. President Donald Trump has previously proposed delaying the presidential election in November, and he has also said he believes the Supreme Court may need to look at voting issues, claiming without proof that the election will be a "fraud."

"When asked if Trump should delay the election, Barrett said she "would have to hear the litigants' claims, read briefs and consult with my law clerks, and speak to my peers, and go through the process of writing opinions."

She added: "If I offer off-the cuff responses, then I would be a legal expert essentially.

When asked several times, Barrett did not say whether she would recuse herself from any election-related cases. But she said she had "no discussion with the President or any of his staff about how I will rule" on the Affordable Care Act or any future election cases. She said she had made no "pre-commitments" on election issues or other cases.

In a conversation with Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, she said," I definitely hope that all members of the committee have more trust in my honesty than to believe that I will allow myself to be used as a pawn for the American people to decide this election."

When Booker asked her whether U.S. presidents should agree to peaceful power transitions, Barrett indicated the query led her to speak on Trump, who declined to do so.

She said she wants to stay out of it right now, pointing it is a political controversy.

Same-sex marriage

Barrett claims she does not feel that the Supreme Court is likely to abolish the national right to same-sex marriage.

When asked about Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015, Barrett did not share her own opinion of the precedent but said, "If [a state] banned same-sex marriage, it would have to be challenged by a lawsuit. And to take that up, the Supreme Court would have to have lower courts move ahead."

She further noted that "the most likely outcome would be that such a case would be shut down by the lower courts, which are bound by Obergefell, and it would not find its way back to the Supreme Court."

"I never discriminated based on sexual identity and would never discriminate on the basis of sexual preference," Barrett added.

Later, Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono and Booker questioned Barrett on her use of the word "sexual preference," as opposed to "sexual orientation." She said she definitely did not mean and would never mean using a name that would cause any offense in the LGBTQ co-operative.

Judicial philosophy

Barrett describes the ideologies she holds with Scalia as an originalist and a textualist on how she interprets the law.

At the beginning of the day on Tuesday, she explained her interpretation of what's that based on the Constitution as a law. She said: "I interpret its text as text, and I understand it to have the meaning that it had at the time people ratified it." 

She further noted that the "meaning doesn't change over time and it,'s not up to me to update it or infuse my own policy views into it."

Barrett said she would not let her personal opinions on any issue affect her judicial decisions, whether it be abortion or anything else. 

"I have a life full of people who have made different choices, and I have never tried to force my choices on them in my personal life," she said. "And professionally, the same is true." 

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