Barrett Demurs on Presidential Self-Pardon: Hearing Update

Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are again questioning Judge Amy Coney Barrett on Wednesday as she advances toward likely confirmation as the third justice President Donald Trump has successfully nominated to the Supreme Court.

Chairman Lindsey Graham said he expects all Republicans on the committee to support Barrett’s confirmation and all Democrats to vote against a nomination that they say should be left to whomever wins the presidential election in less than three weeks.


“That question may or may not arise but it’s one that calls for legal analysis for what the scope of the pardon power is,” Barrett said, adding she couldn’t express an opinion on it because the issue may come before the court.

Barrett said the Supreme Court can rule on a law, but it doesn’t have the power to enforce it, even when applied to the president.

“The Supreme Court can’t control whether or not the president obeys,” Barrett said, citing an example of Abraham Lincoln disobeying a circuit court order during the Civil War. “So a court can pronounce the law and issue a judgment, but it lacks control over how the political branches respond to it.”

Democrats Focus on Voting Rights, Health Care (10:03 a.m.)

Barrett largely parried questions from the Judiciary Committee’s top Democrat Dianne Feinstein on voting rights, health care and other issues by saying she could not opine on the kinds of cases that might come before the Supreme Court.

“Again, it’s one of those things that I can’t answer both because it would be requiring me to grade or express agreement or disagreement with a Supreme Court opinion, but also it’s the kind of case that could come up in a closely related form,” Barrett told Feinstein in response to a question about Medicare.

Barrett repeatedly declined to weigh in on questions about specific cases or statements by other Supreme Court justices.

Republican Senator Chuck Grassley criticized Democrats for suggesting that Barrett’s confirmation would result in the loss of health care for millions of Americans — a reference to the case regarding the Affordable Care Act that will be before the Supreme Court next month.

Graham Celebrates Barrett for Opposing Abortion (9:15 a.m.)

Graham opened Wednesday’s session by saying that Republicans are sending a nominee to the Supreme Court who has publicly opposed abortion.

“It’s pretty clear to everybody watching these hearings that you and your family are pro-life,” Graham said. “This is the first time in American history we’ve nominated a woman who is unashamedly pro-life and embraces her faith without apology. And she’s going to the court.”

Barrett spent a considerable amount of time during Tuesday’s hearing defending her judicial independence and ability to separate her faith from her duties.

“This hearing to me is an opportunity to not punch through a glass ceiling, but a reinforced concrete barrier around conservative women,” Graham said. “You’re going to shatter that barrier.”

Key Developments:

  • Barrett Avoids Slips as Democrats Press on Abortion, Health Care
  • Kamala Harris Quizzes Amy Coney Barrett — With Proper Caution
  • These Are the Senators to Watch During Barrett’s Hearings
  • Barrett Offers Supreme Court Many Paths to Erode Abortion Rights
  • Barrett’s View of Tossing Supreme Court Precedent Alarms Critics

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