Trump’s Supreme Court Nominee to Face Tough Scrutiny From Senate Democrats

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -
A reporter looks at Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday. (Erin Schaff/Pool via Reuters)

Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett will on Tuesday face the first of two days of direct questioning from senators, as Democrats try to make the case that her confirmation would threaten health care for millions of Americans.

The Senate Judiciary Committee hearing presents Barrett with a chance to respond to Democratic lawmakers who have been unified in opposing her primarily on what they say would be her role in undermining the Obamacare healthcare law and its protection for patients with pre-existing conditions.

“I believe Americans of all backgrounds deserve an independent Supreme Court that interprets our Constitution and laws as they are written,” she said on Monday during the hearing’s opening statements.

Nominated to the court by Republican President Donald Trump late last month following the death of liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Barrett added that courts were not designed to solve every problem in public life. “The public should not expect courts to do so and the courts should not try.”

Barrett could be on the Supreme Court in time for the Nov. 10 arguments in a case in which Trump and Republican-led states are seeking to invalidate the 2010 Affordable Care Act, Democratic former President Barack Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement that has enabled millions of Americans to obtain medical coverage.

Barrett has criticized a 2012 Supreme Court ruling authored by conservative Chief Justice John Roberts that upheld the law, popularly known as Obamacare.

Republicans have a 53-47 Senate majority, leaving Democrats with little to no chance of blocking Barrett’s confirmation.

Barrett would tilt the Supreme Court further to the right and give conservative justices a 6-3 majority, making even the unexpected victories on which liberals have prevailed in recent years, rarer still.

Trump’s nomination of Barrett came late in an election cycle when Republican control of both the White House and Senate is at stake. The confirmation hearing format has changed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the public excluded and some senators participating remotely.