Amy Coney Barrett Refuses To Comment On Protecting Roe V. Wade

Topline

President Trump’s Supreme Court pick Amy Coney Barrett said during her second day of confirmation hearings that she would not classify Roe v. Wade as “super-precedent,” a decision that is so settled that it cannot be overruled, and refused to comment on what she would do if the case was put before her.

Senate Holds Confirmation Hearing For Amy Coney Barrett To Be Supreme Court Justice

Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett listens during a Senate Judiciary Committee … [+] confirmation hearing on October 13, 2020 in Washington, DC.

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Key Facts

Barrett’s comments on the case come amid concern from Democrats that her appointment to the Supreme Court could lead to the overturning of the pivotal 1973 ruling which establishes a constitutional right to abortion.

“Roe is not a super-precedent,” said Barrett in response to questions from Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), “But that does not mean it should be overruled.”

While Barrett would not designate Roe v. Wade to be “super-precedent,” she did say at a different point in the hearing that Brown v. Board of Education, which abolished segregation and the practice of separate but equal, qualified as a ruling that “no one questions anymore.”

Barrett said her definition of the term comes from scholarly literature.

Earlier in the hearing, Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) asked Barrett if she shared the view of late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided. 

“I can’t pre-commit or say yes I’m going in with some agenda because I’m not,” said Barrett, insisting: “I don’t have an agenda.” 

As is customary of judges in confirmation hearings, Barrett has insisted throughout the hearing: “The canons of judicial conduct would prohibit me from expressing a view.”

Key Background

The nomination of Barrett, a conservative Catholic, has alarmed abortion supporters—particularly because of recent reports revealing strong personal opinions on the case. In 2006, Barrett signed an advertisement calling for an end to the “barbaric legacy” of Roe v. Wade. In 2013, the judge gave two talks to anti-abortion student groups about the Supreme Court’s cases on women’s reproductive rights. However, Republicans have argued that Barrett’s personal beliefs are not relevant to her confirmation. Barrett herself has insisted she will be an impartial justice.

Crucial Quote

“The policy decisions and value judgements of government must be made by the political branches elected by and accountable to the People,” wrote Barrett in her remarks. “The public should not expect courts to do so, and courts should not try.”

Further Reading

“Amy Coney Barrett Says She Will Be An Impartial Justice In Opening Remarks” (Forbes)

“Senate Democrats Ask For ‘Immediate Explanation’ On Amy Coney Barrett’s ‘Troubling’ Paperwork Omissions” (Forbes)

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