Appearing in-person before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Barrett emphasized that she had no political agenda and frequently cited her current role as a judge on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals when asked about her views on specific issues.
"If I give off-the-cuff answers, then I would basically be a legal pundit," the 48-year-old nominee said. "I don't think we want judges to be legal pundits. I think we want judges to approach cases thoughtfully with an open mind."
"If I express a view on a precedent one way or another … it signals to litigants that I may tilt one way or another on a pending case," Barrett added.
Supreme Court nominees typically avoid answering specific questions about how they would rule in cases that could come before the court. But Barrett's responses stymied Democrats, who have zeroed in on health care as their top issue in the Supreme Court fight — in particular, protections for Americans with pre-existing health conditions. Those protections were enshrined in the Affordable Care Act.
"These are life or death questions for people," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the committee's ranking Democrat. "There is really great concern about ... your views on that case that's coming up."
The Trump administration is seeking to invalidate the entire 2010 law in a case known as California v. Texas, and the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case beginning on Nov. 10, just days after the election. Senate Republicans are aiming to confirm Barrett to the ...
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