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Senate Judiciary Committee sets Oct. 22 vote on Barrett’s nomination

The Judiciary Committee is expected to vote on Barrett’s nomination next week.

Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett.
Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett.SUSAN WALSH/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

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Amy Coney Barrett hearings this week


 

9:48 a.m.

 

Senate Judiciary sets Oct. 22 vote on Barrett’s nomination

By The Associated Press

The Senate Judiciary Committee convened on Thursday set an Oct. 22 vote on Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination as Republicans race to confirm President Donald Trump’s pick before the Nov. 3 election.

The session is without Barrett after two long days of public testimony in which she stressed that she would be her own judge and sought to create distance between herself and past positions critical of abortion, the Affordable Care Act and other issues.

Her confirmation to take the seat of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg seems inevitable, as even some Senate Democrats acknowledged.

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Sen, Lindsey Graham pushed past Democratic objections to set the panel’s Oct. 22 vote on recommending her confirmation even before final witnesses testify before and against her nomination. The committee set the vote for next week.

“This is a sham,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.


 

Thursday, Oct. 15
9:14 a.m.

 

Senate Judiciary considers Amy Coney Barrett Thursday ahead of vote next week

By The Associated Press

The Senate Judiciary Committee was poised to take the first steps toward approving Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett following two long days of Senate testimony in which she stressed that she would be her own judge and sought to create distance between herself and past positions.

Barrett’s confirmation to take the seat of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg seems inevitable, as even some Senate Democrats acknowledged in Senate hearings on Tuesday and Wednesday. The shift would cement a 6-3 conservative majority on the court and would be the most pronounced ideological change in 30 years, from the liberal icon to the conservative appeals court judge.

After the two days of questioning, the Judiciary panel was scheduled to start considering the nomination Thursday morning. The meeting, which is a procedural formality, was to be held ahead of a panel of law experts and advocates who will testify for and against Barrett’s nomination. Senators were expected to discuss the nomination but then push the committee vote on Barrett until next week, per committee rules. Barrett will not be present.

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By The Associated Press

Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing has gaveled to a close for the day, wrapping up three days of testimony.

Acknowledging the deeply divided Senate, Judiciary Committee Chair Lindsey Graham said, “The hope was not to change anybody’s mind.”

But he said Americans had a chance to hear directly from President Donald Trump’s nominee.

The conservative appellate court judge presented herself during Wednesday’s nine-hour session as having an originalist approach to the law, but she vowed to keep her personal and religious views in check as she considers cases on the high court.

Senators will meet privately to review the FBI assessment of the appellate court judge, as is standard practice, before reconvening Thursday to hear from outside advocacy groups.

Her confirmation, expected days before the Nov. 3 election, would tip the court to a 6-3 conservative majority.

By The Associated Press

Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett says she cannot express a view on climate change because it is a “very contentious matter of public policy.”

Barrett made the comment Wednesday during a line of questioning from Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris of California, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and her party’s vice presidential nominee.

Harris asked Barrett a series of questions, including whether she thinks the coronavirus is infectious, whether smoking causes cancer and whether “climate change is happening and it’s threatening the air we breathe and the water we drink.”

The Indiana judge responded that she does think coronavirus is infectious and smoking causes cancer, but she declined to answer on climate change, saying that it is “a very contentious matter of public debate, and I will not do that, I will not express a view on a matter of public policy, especially one that is politically controversial.”

Scientists say that climate change is human-made, caused by people burning fossil fuels, and is worsening sharply.

By The Associated Press

Amy Coney Barrett is refusing to say whether she thinks race discrimination in voting still exists.

The Supreme Court nominee has refused in two days of testimony in her confirmation hearing to opine on many topics, including whether a president can unilaterally delay the election.

The issue arose when California Sen. Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice presidential nominee, asked if Barrett agreed with a sentence from a 2013 opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts in which he wrote that “voting discrimination still exists; no one doubts that.”

Barrett said she will “not comment on what any justice said in an opinion.”

The exchange came near the end of the second and final day of Barrett’s testimony.

By Christina Prignano, Globe staff

Amy Coney Barrett declined to say during her Supreme Court confirmation hearing whether humans are responsible for climate change, a fact widely accepted by the scientific community.

Barrett, questioned by Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, said she did not know enough about climate change to “opine” about its causes, and also said it wasn’t relevant to the job of a Supreme Court justice.

“I don’t think I am competent to opine on what causes global warming or not,” Barrett said. “I don’t think that my views on global warming or climate change are relevant to the job I would do as a judge, nor do I feel like I have views that are informed enough. And I haven’t studied scientific data, I’m not really in a position to offer any kind of informed opinion on what I think causes global warming.”

Asked whether she agrees with President Trump’s views on climate change, Barrett said she didn’t know if she had seen Trump express any views on the subject. Trump has called climate change a hoax.

By The Associated Press

Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett would not say that the Trump administration’s practice of separating children from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border was wrong.

Barrett was being questioned by Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey about the practice during her confirmation hearing Wednesday. She said she could not be drawn into a debate about the Trump administration’s immigration policy. She has refused to engage on many issues, including whether President Donald Trump has the right to delay the election, citing the need for judicial independence.

The Trump administration separated more than 2,500 children from their parents at the border during the spring and summer of 2018. The practice was widely derided as inhumane by world leaders, lawmakers and religious groups, including by Pope Francis.

Later investigations concluded thousands more may have been separated, but the administration’s lack of records made it impossible to fully grasp how many. The administration is still in court over the policy.


By The Associated Press

The confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett paused for about 40 minutes because of audio difficulties.

The sound in the hearing room cut out a little before 2 p.m. Wednesday, after around five hours of questioning. The senators are completing 20-minute rounds of questioning and might do a final round of 10 minutes each. Wednesday is the final day of questioning.

The sound cut out right after Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut asked Barrett if she got some rest after a long day of questioning on Tuesday. The Indiana judge acknowledged that “I did have a glass of wine. I’ll tell you I needed that at the end of the day.”

Blumenthal said on that point, “I have a right to remain silent.”

The audio cut out again around 3 p.m., and the hearing took another unexpected break.

By The Associated Press

Sen. Chris Coons says Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett would shift the balance of the court in a more conservative direction, even if she will not say publicly she has a conservative mindset.

The Delaware Democrat was speaking Wednesday, the third day of Barrett’s confirmation hearings. He asked whether she recognized that if she were confirmed, there would be a balance shift on the court that could have “profound” implications.

Coons referred to an interview Barrett gave in which where she spoke of a balance shift should Merrick Garland have been confirmed to the high court. Garland was chosen by President Barack Obama in March 2016 after Justice Antonin Scalia died, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to consider the nomination on grounds it was a presidential election year.

President Donald Trump nominated Barrett just days after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died Sept. 18, and GOP senators are moving at a break-neck pace to confirm her before the election on Nov. 3. No court nominee has been named so close to a presidential election before.

Barrett told Coons she was referring in the interview to the fact that Garland was not an originalist, as Scalia was. Coons noted that Barrett, an originalist who claims Scalia as her mentor, would replace Ginsburg, who did not hold originalist views. That would shifting the court’s 5-4 conservative majority to 6-3.

Coons said he would not vote to confirm her.

By The Associated Press

Judge Amy Coney Barrett told the Senate Judiciary Committee that she would be her own Justice, and not a copy of the late Justice Anonin Scalia.

“When I said that Justice Scalia’s philosophy is mine, too, I certainly didn’t mean to say that every sentence that came out of Justice Scalia’s mouth or every sentence that he wrote is one that I would agree with,” Barrett told the Senate Judiciary Committee,

The judge was responding to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the panel, who asked whether she agreed with Scalia’s view that the civil rights era Voting Rights Act was a “perpetuation of racial entitlement.” Barrett said Scalia’s approach — “originalism and texturalism” — is hers as well. But without discussing the specifics of that case, she called the Voting Rights Act a “triumph in the civil rights movement.”

By The Associated Press

Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett won’t say whether a president can pardon himself but says she agrees no one is above the law.

Under questioning Wednesday from Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, President Donald Trump’s choice for the high court offered no view on the pardon issue. Multiple investigations are looking into Trump’s taxes, his businesses and his associates.

Barrett would not offer her thoughts on whether Trump would be able to pardon himself. But she agreed with Leahy’s assertion “no one is above the law.”

Barrett is in her third day of hearings and has repeatedly refused to say how she’d rule on various issues, including abortion and the Affordable Care Act.

Republican senators are moving at a break-neck pace to confirm Barrett before the Nov. 3 election. Democrats say the process is being rushed.

By The Associated Press

Sen. Dick Durbin says there’s an “orange cloud” hanging over the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.

The Illinois Democrat didn’t specifically say he meant President Donald Trump in Barrett’s confirmation hearing Wednesday. But he said earlier on CNN that “orange cloud” hanging over the nomination was related to Trump and the Republican president’s Tweets.

Barrett was nominated by Trump just days after the Sept. 18 death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Durbin says that Trump has made clear he wishes to undo the Affordable Care Act and that those wishes are also a cloud over Barrett’s nomination.

Barrett has said she is not “hostile” to the Affordable Care Act and has promised to hear all arguments.

Republican senators are moving at a break-neck pace to confirm Barrett before the Nov. 3 election. Democrats say the process is being rushed.

By The Associated Press

Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett says she’ll “certainly keep an open mind” on allowing cameras to broadcast proceedings of the high court.

Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont have asked all recent nominees to the court whether they would favor live or same-day broadcasts of arguments. Previous nominees have also expressed openness but have cooled to the idea once they became justices.

The court has been providing live audio of arguments, held by telephone, since May due to the coronavirus pandemic — the first time it has done so. Grassley and Leahy are longtime members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and introduced legislation earlier this year to continue the practice.

While questioning Barrett on Wednesday, the 87-year-old Grassley joked it probably wouldn’t happen in his lifetime. But he says allowing cameras in the courtroom “can bring about a better understanding of the judiciary.” Leahy also urged Barrett to consider it during his round of questioning.

Republicans want to confirm Barrett before the presidential election. Democrats say Republicans are rushing the process.

By The Associated Press

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham says the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court is a signal to young conservative women who oppose abortion that there’s “a seat at the table for them.”

Opening the second day of questioning on Wednesday, the South Carolina Republican told Barrett she has been “candid to this body about who you are, what you believe” and this is the first time a woman has been nominated to the Supreme Court who is “unashamedly pro-life and embraces her faith without apology.”

Graham says he’s “never been more proud” of a nominee.

While Barrett has repeatedly declined during her confirmation hearings to say how she would rule on abortion, senators have been clear in their questioning that they know she is opposed to it.

Barrett is the most openly anti-abortion nominee to the Supreme Court in decades. Democrats have warned her confirmation could lead to the overturning of the landmark abortion case Roe v. Wade.

By The Associated Press

Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett returns to Capitol Hill for a third day of confirmation hearings as senators dig deeper into the conservative judge’s outlook on abortion, health care and a potentially disputed presidential election — the Democrats running out of time to stop Republicans pushing her quick confirmation.

Wednesday’s session is set to be Barrett’s last before the Senate Judiciary Committee. She has been batting away questions in long and lively exchanges, insisting she would bring no personal agenda to the court but decide cases “as they come.”

By The Associated Press

The second day of confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett is finished after nearly 12 hours.

GOP senators are moving at a breakneck pace to confirm Barrett ahead of the Nov. 3 election. President Donald Trump nominated her just days after the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Sept. 18.

Barrett told Senate Judiciary Committee members she could not say whether she’d rule to overturn the Affordable Care Act if it came before the court, or what she would do on other major culture-war issues like abortion or same-sex marriage. She said she would first need to read the litigation and confer with her colleagues before she could make any decisions.

One of Democrats' biggest fears is that Barrett’s all-but-certain confirmation by the Republican-controlled Senate would create a 6-3 conservative majority on the court that could well overturn the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.

She will be questioned again Wednesday.

By The Associated Press

Amy Coney Barrett says she doesn’t recall seeing President Donald Trump’s statements that he planned to nominate Supreme Court justices who would repeal the Affordable Care Act prior to her nomination for an open seat.

Her comments came in response to questions from Sen. Kamala Harris of California, the Democratic nominee for vice president. Harris questioned Barrett via video stream from her office in the Capitol rather than attend in person due to coronavirus concerns.

Asked if she was aware of Trump’s comments before her nomination, Barrett said she could not give a yes or no answer.

“I don’t recall hearing about or seeing such statements,” she said.

She later said Democratic senators may have referenced Trump’s comments during conversations after her nomination but prior to her confirmation hearings.

Harris also noted that Barrett wrote an article critical of the court’s decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act five months before Trump nominated her to an appellate court in May 2017.

Harris' focus on the Affordable Care Act mirrored her campaign messaging about access to health care amid the pandemic.

By The Associated Press

President Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court is declining to get involved in the question of whether the president should commit to a peaceful transfer of power if the election doesn’t go his way.

Trump has said that he’ll “see what happens” before agreeing to any election outcome.

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, a Democrat, asked Barrett about the issue Tuesday on the second day of her confirmation hearing. Booker asked: “Do you believe that every president should make a commitment unequivocally and resolutely to the peaceful transfer of power?”

“Well, senator, that seems to me to be pulling me in a little bit into this question of whether the president has said that he would not peacefully leave office and so to the extent that this is a political controversy right now as a judge I want to stay out of it,” she responded.

Booker asked again.

“One of the beauties of America from the beginning of the republic is that we have had peaceful transfers of power and that disappointed voters have accepted the new leaders that come into office, and that’s not true in every country, and I think it is part of the genius of our Constitution,” Barrett responded.

By The Associated Press

Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett is clarifying her use of the phrase “sexual preference,” apologizing to those who interpreted her word choice as suggesting hostility toward LGBT rights.

Earlier in her confirmation hearing, Barrett told senators that she has not “discriminated on the basis of sexual preference,” a phrase that is not used by LGBT advocates because of its suggestion that sexual orientation or gender identity is a choice. Democratic senators seized on that moment, with Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii warning Barrett that the term is “offensive and outdated.”

Barrett later clarified that she intended to suggest no hostility with her use of the term and offered an apology when prompted by Republican Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa. The judge also said that her declining to state her views on the high court’s 2015 decision upholding same-sex marriage rights is “not indicating disagreement with it.”

By The Associated Press

Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett has declined to say whether she views the criminalizing of in vitro fertilization as constitutional, describing it as an abstract question.

The appeals court judge nominated by President Donald Trump to join the nation’s highest court signed a 2006 statement opposing “abortion on demand” that was circulated by a group in her home state of Indiana that has also criticized IVF.

While the statement Barrett signed didn’t address IVF, Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois has urged her colleagues to reject Barrett’s nomination, citing her daughter’s conception using the common reproductive technology.

During her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing, Barrett has so far said it would be “inappropriate” to restate her personal view on abortion as a public official and that she signed the 2006 statement “in my personal capacity.”

The Roman Catholic Church, of which Barrett is a member, is opposed to abortion. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has described IVF as “in disagreement” with church teachings.

By The Associated Press

Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett says an article she wrote criticizing Chief Justice John Roberts' 2012 opinion saving the Affordable Care Act does not reflect any “hostility” toward the law.

Barrett was answering questions from Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, who brought up the article she wrote in 2017 before she became a judge that said Roberts had “pushed the Affordable Care Act beyond its plausible meaning to save the statute.”

Democrats have focused much of their questioning on the health care law, as the court will hear a new case in November that could overturn it. Barrett said that case is very different, and her “critique of the reasoning” in the previous case does not mean she doesn’t like the law. “I can promise you that’s not my view, that’s not my approach to the law,” she said.

Coons said he believes the article is highly relevant to the upcoming case and that in many ways Barrett has signaled how she would rule. He said he believes Republicans are rushing her confirmation partly so she can rule on that case.

“It concerns me gravely,” Coons said.

By The Associated Press

Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett says she signed a statement in 2006 opposing “abortion on demand” on her way out of church and “in my personal capacity,” separate from her current status as a federal judge.

The 2006 statement, which Barrett did not initially include in materials provided to the Senate Judiciary Committee in advance of her confirmation hearings this week, has raised questions for some critics about whether the appeals court judge can separate her personal views from her judicial decision-making.

Barrett, nominated by President Donald Trump to succeed the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, told senators Tuesday that she sees as “distinct my personal moral religious views and my task of applying law as a judge.”

She noted that the substance of the 2006 statement, which framed life as beginning at conception, is in line with the Roman Catholic Church’s position on abortion. Barrett also said that while she shared her views publicly as a private citizen at that time, she doesn’t “feel it is appropriate” to disclose similar views now.

By The Associated Press

Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett says she doesn’t consider the high court’s Roe v. Wade decision on abortion a “super-precedent” that can’t be overruled.

Barrett said the court’s 1973 ruling that affirmed the right to abortion isn’t in the same category as the Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling, which declared segregated public schools unconstitutional.

Barrett said in an exchange with Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar that the Roe decision does not have the same secure place in the law as Brown v. Board of Education.

Barrett says no one talks about overturning the Brown decision. But she says all the questions she’s gotten in her confirmation hearing about her views of abortion “indicates Roe doesn’t fall in that category.” She says it’s “not a case that’s universally accepted.”

President Donald Trump has said he would appoint justices who would overturn a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion. Democrats worry that the court could have enough anti-abortion justices to threaten abortion rights if Barrett is confirmed.

By Christina Prignano, Globe staff

Judge Amy Coney Barrett is facing criticism after referring to “sexual preference," a term that implies a person’s sexual orientation is a choice, when vowing not to discriminate against LGBTQ people during her Supreme Court confirmation hearing on Tuesday.

Barrett made the comments while being questioned by California Senator Dianne Feinstein about whether she would vote to roll back rights and protections won by LGBTQ activists over the years, as her ideological predecessor, the late Justice Antonin Scalia, did.

“You identify yourself with a justice ― that you, like him ― would be a consistent vote to roll back hard-fought freedoms and protections for the LGBT community,” Feinstein said of Scalia. “And what I was hoping you would say is that this would be a point of difference, where those freedoms would be respected, and you haven’t said that.”

“Senator, I have no agenda, and I do want to be clear I that have never discriminated on the basis of sexual preference and would not ever discriminate on the basis of sexual preference. Like racism, I think discrimination is abhorrent,” Barrett said.

But the wording she used, “sexual preference,” alarmed some observers who said it fundamentally misunderstands what it means to be gay. They argued claims that homosexuality is a choice have been used in attempts to deny basic rights to LBGTQ people and even try to change their orientation through measures like conversion therapy.


 

2:25 p.m.

 

Senator Whitehouse accuses conservatives of seeking to influence judiciary with dark money campaign

By Christina Prignano, Globe staff

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island used the time allotted to him for questioning of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett to make an expansive argument about conservative activists' efforts to influence the judiciary.

Without asking Barrett a single question, Whitehouse laid out what he said was a strategy by small group of influential conservatives to cement control of the federal judiciary. He displayed a series of charts drawing connections between organizations that promote the careers of favored judges and also write amicus briefs supporting conservative causes that appear before those same judges.

“This, more and more, looks like it’s not three schemes, but it’s one scheme. With the same funders selecting judges, funding campaigns for the judges, and then showing up in court in these orchestrated amicus flotillas to tell the judges what to do,” Whitehouse said.

Whitehouse also rebutted claims from Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee that Barrett’s nomination was unrelated to the Affordable Care Act case set to be heard on the Supreme Court later this year.

“Don’t act as if we’re making this stuff up,” Whitehouse said. “This is what President Trump said. This is what your party platform says. Reverse the Obamacare cases. Senator after Senator including many in this committee, filed briefs saying that the Affordable Care Act should be thrown out by courts. Why is it surprising for us to be concerned that you want this nominee to do what you want nominees to do?”

By The Associated Press

Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett is defending an opinion she wrote arguing that a person who’s convicted of a nonviolent felony should not automatically be disqualified from owning a gun.

Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois challenged Barrett’s argument, saying it would make it easier for felons to bring guns into his home city of Chicago, which is plagued by gun violence caused in part by guns brought in from Barrett’s home state of Indiana.

In a dissent in the 2019 gun rights case of Kanter v. Barr, Barrett argued a conviction for a nonviolent felony such as mail fraud was not enough to disqualify someone from owning a gun.

Durbin accused Barrett of judicial activism, noting a Supreme Court ruling by Barrett’s mentor, the late Justice Antonin Scalia, upheld the idea that felons can be barred from gun ownership.

By The Associated Press

Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett insists she does not necessarily oppose the Affordable Care Act, the health care law that’s being challenged in a case heading to the court next month.

Barrett told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday she’s “not hostile to the ACA.”

Barrett is being questioned about her past writings, including a piece in which she was critical of Chief Justice John Roberts' previous rulings on the Obama-era law.

The appellate court judge distanced herself from those writings, saying they were not addressing specific aspects of the law as she would if confirmed. The court is set to hear a challenge to the law Nov. 10.

Barrett told the senators, “I apply the law. I follow the law. You make the policy.”

Still, Barrett appeared stumped when grilled by Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont about particulars of the law, also called Obamacare. Barrett could not recite specifics, including that 23 million people are covered by the law or that more than 2 million people are on their parent’s health insurance.


By The Associated Press

Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett says she can’t give an opinion on whether she’d recuse herself from any election-related litigation involving President Donald Trump.

Barrett said Tuesday in her confirmation hearing that she has not been asked by Trump or anyone else on how she’d rule in upcoming cases, including the election.

She says it would be a gross violation of judicial independence to make a commitment on how she’d rule. She says it’s a violation of the judicial independence to put a justice on the court as a means of obtaining a particular result.

But Trump has said he would look for justices who were anti-abortion. He’s said he wanted the full nine justices to decide election-related matters.

By The Associated Press

Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett says she can’t answer whether President Donald Trump has the power to delay the general election.

Trump floated the idea earlier this year as the coronavirus pandemic worsened. The Republican president has derided mail-in voting as rife with fraud though there is no evidence to suggest that.

But, Trump does not have the authority to unilaterally change the date of the election. Article II of the Constitution gives Congress the power to choose the timing of the general election. An 1845 federal law made the date the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein asked Barrett during her confirmation hearing on Tuesday if she could say whether Trump had that authority. Barrett said she’d need to confer with her colleagues and read litigation to decide the question.

By The Associated Press

Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett is declining to say whether she thinks Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that established the right to abortion, should be struck down.

Barrett sidestepped questions about that landmark case from the Senate Judiciary Committee’s top Democrat, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, as the panel held a second day of hearings on Barrett’s nomination.

Barrett says she won’t answer questions about whether she would rule that Roe v. Wade should be overturned because she would not join the court with “some agenda” on the subject. She says her only agenda is to “stick to the rule of law and decide cases as they come.”

Feinstein told Barrett that it was “distressing to not get a straight answer” to her question.

The conservative Barrett was nominated by President Donald Trump last month to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

One of Democrats' biggest fears is that Barrett’s all but certain confirmation by the Republican controlled Senate would create a 6-3 conservative majority on the court that could well overturn Roe v. Wade.

By the Associated Press

Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett says she will be able to put aside her Catholic beliefs when ruling if she’s confirmed as a justice on the nation’s highest court.

Barrett told Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina on Tuesday she “can” set aside her Catholic beliefs and has “done that” since her confirmation as an appeals court judge in 2017. Graham chairs the Judiciary Committee overseeing Barrett’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing.

Barrett was nominated by President Donald Trump to fill the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat on the court. She’s fielding questions from senators on the judiciary panel this week.

Republicans have warned Democrats against criticizing Barrett’s religion or making it an issue in the hearings, although Democrats have made clear they have no plans to do so this week.

By the Associated Press

Judge Amy Coney Barrett says if she’s confirmed to the Supreme Court she’ll be her own justice.

Barrett has said the late Justice Antonin Scalia was a mentor to her and she was a former clerk for him. But when she was asked about her views on how she interpreted the Constitution and law at her confirmation hearing on Tuesday, she said that if confirmed the country would not be “getting Justice Scalia, you would be getting Justice Barrett.”

Barrett is facing the first day of questioning from senators in her confirmation hearings. Republicans are moving at a break-neck pace because they want to get Barrett on the court before the Nov. 3 election.

Democrats are worried about whether Barrett would strike down the Affordable Care Act. They say Republicans are rushing the confirmation process.

By the Associated Press

Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett will face senators' questions over her approach to health care, legal precedent and even the presidential election during a second day of confirmation hearings on track to lock in a conservative court majority for years to come.

The mood is likely to shift to a more confrontational tone as Barrett, an appellate court judge with very little trial court experience, is grilled in 30-minute segments Tuesday by Democrats gravely opposed to President Donald Trump’s nominee, yet virtually powerless to stop her rise. Republicans are rushing her to confirmation before Election Day.

By the Associated Press

Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett says she believes the court should interpret the U.S. Constitution and laws “as they are written.”

Barrett said in her opening statement Monday at her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary committee that people of all backgrounds deserve “an independent Supreme Court.”

She says: “And I believe I can serve my country by playing that role.”

President Donald Trump nominated Barrett just two weeks ago to fill the seat of the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Sept. 18. Trump and Republicans want Barrett on the bench in time for Election Day, Nov. 3.

Barrett, a conservative, would shift the balance on the court significantly right, from 5-4 in favor of conservatives to 6-3. Democrats worry she would vote to rule the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional in a case coming before the court in November.

By Christina Prignano, Globe staff

Senator Kamala Harris on Monday slammed Senate Republicans for holding what she called an unsafe Senate hearing where dozens of people were packed into a single room without taking tests for coronavirus.

Harris, a member of the committee considering Judge Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court, also decried the decision to prioritize rushing President Trump’s pick to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg through the Senate confirmation process rather than passing a coronavirus relief package.

Harris was addressing the Senate Judiciary Committee remotely during the first day of hearings for Barrett.

“Their priorities are not the American peoples' priorities, but for the moment, Senate Republicans hold the majority in the Senate and determine the schedule, so here we are,” Harris said.

She went on to warn that Barrett’s confirmation could mean the end of the Affordable Care Act, echoing many Senate Democrats who spoke before her.

“A clear majority of Americans want whomever wins the election to fill this seat and my Republican colleagues know that,” she said. “Yet they are deliberately defying the will of the people in their attempt to roll back the rights and protections provided under the Affordable Care Act.”

By the Associated Press

Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal says Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett must recuse herself from any cases involving President Donald Trump and the outcome of the Nov. 3 election.

The Connecticut senator says Barrett’s participation in election cases would do “explosive, enduring harm to the court’s legitimacy” and to her credibility.

Blumenthal told Trump’s nominee on Monday: “You must recuse yourself.”

By the Washington Post

More than a dozen protesters calling on senators to reject the confirmation of President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, were arrested Monday moments before the first day of Senate Judiciary Committee hearings began.

Unlike in past years, the public was not allowed to watch the hearings in person due to the coronavirus pandemic. Demonstrators instead took their dissent to the entrances of Senate office buildings and the marble steps of the Supreme Court.

Read the full story.


 

11:02 a.m.

 

Bar Association says Barrett is ‘Well Qualified’

By the Associated Press

The American Bar Association says Judge Amy Coney Barrett is well qualified to serve on the Supreme Court.

In a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, the association says it has completed its evaluation of the professional qualifications of President Donald Trump’s choice to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

The letter says a majority of the ABA’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary determined that Barrett is “Well Qualified.” A minority is of the opinion Barrett is “Qualified” to serve.

The group says its evaluation is based on “the qualities of integrity, professional competence, and judicial temperament.”

Republicans want Barrett confirmed before the presidential election.

Democratic vice presidential nominee and Sen. Kamala Harris says Republicans are trying to “ram through” Barrett.


 

10:50 a.m.

 

Senator Whitehouse calls Barrett pick ‘judicial torpedo’

By the Associated Press

Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse says President Donald Trump’s nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court is “a judicial torpedo” aimed at protections provided by the Affordable Care Act.

Whitehouse and other Democrats argued Monday at Barrett’s confirmation hearing that the Affordable Care Act is at serious risk if Barrett is confirmed to the high court. The court is set to hear a major challenge to the law on Nov. 10, a week after the presidential election.

Whitehouse says the nation is in the midst of a “relentless” health care crisis that the Trump administration has “botched.” He notes former Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg “hadn’t been buried when the president and Senate Republicans celebrated Barrett’s nomination at the White House super-spreader event,” when a number of White House aides and others were likely infected with the coronavirus.

Whitehouse says Barrett "has signaled in the judicial equivalent of all-caps that she believes the ACA must go.″

Republicans want Barrett confirmed before the election.


 

10:25 a.m.

 

Senator Harris says GOP is trying to ‘ram through’ Supreme Court pick as Americans vote

By the Associated Press

Democratic vice presidential nominee and Sen. Kamala Harris is criticizing Republicans for trying to “ram through” Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett while Americans are voting in the presidential election.

The California senator said on Monday that running mate Joe Biden has “been really clear” and she has been “really clear.” She tells reporters on Capitol Hill, “We are 22 days away from an election, and people are voting right now.”

Harris says Republicans are “trying to push through, ram through, a Supreme Court justice for a lifetime appointment while almost 7 million people have already voted.”

Harris is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee but will be attending the hearing remotely because of COVID-19 concerns.

Republicans are pushing to confirm Barrett before Election Day.


 

9:46 a.m.

 

Feinstein warns health care for millions is at stake in Barrett nomination

By The Associated Press

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein says “healthcare coverage for millions of Americans is at stake” in the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.

Feinstein was speaking Monday during the start of hearings for Barrett before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Feinstein, the top Democrat on the panel, says the president has promised to appoint justices who will vote to undo the Obama-era Affordable Care Act. The Trump administration is challenging the law in a case that will be heard by the Supreme Court on Nov. 10.

Feinstein and Democrats are expected to focus on healthcare during the hearings. Feinstein still faces criticism for her comments during Barrett’s 2017 confirmation hearing to be a federal judge. Feinstein had joined Republicans on the panel in asking Barrett about her Roman Catholic faith, but then went further by telling Barrett, then a Notre Dame law professor, that "when you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you.″

Republicans are pushing to confirm Barrett before Election Day.


 

9:36 a.m.

 

Graham praises Barrett as he opens Supreme Court hearing

By the Associated Press

Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham says Judge Amy Coney Barrett is in a “category of excellence” as a law professor and legal scholar.

Graham, R-S.C., praised Barrett as he opened Supreme Court confirmation hearing before the Republican-led panel. Barring a dramatic development, Republicans appear to have the votes to confirm the 48-year-old conservative appellate judge to a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court.

Graham acknowledged "the COVID problem in America is real,″ but said, “We do have a country that needs to move forward safely.” Barrett was wearing a face mask, as were all the roughly 100 people in the cavernous hearing room.

Graham cited Barrett’s testimony that she follows the judicial philosophy of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, for whom she clerked two decades ago. He called that a good summary of "who Amy Barrett is in terms of the law.″

Graham acknowledged the hearings are likely to be contentious, but said he hopes they do replicate the divisive hearings for Justice Brett Kavanaugh. "She doesn’t deserve that,″ Graham said. “The American people I don’t believe deserve a repeat of those episodes.”


 

9:27 a.m.

 

Mike Lee, who tested positive for COVID-19, attends Senate hearing

Senator Mike Lee talked with Senator Lindsey Graham behind Senator Charles Grassley.
Senator Mike Lee talked with Senator Lindsey Graham behind Senator Charles Grassley.ALEX EDELMAN/Associated Press

By the Associated Press

A Utah Republican senator who had tested positive for the coronavirus says “I feel great” and is attending hearings in person for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.

Sen. Michael Lee was present for the start of Senate Judiciary Committee hearings Monday for Barrett. He was wearing a blue surgical mask.

Conn Carroll, a spokesman for Lee, had previously said the senator is symptom-free.

Lee and another member of the committee, Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina, both announced Oct. 2 that they had tested positive for the virus. Both attended a Sept. 26 Rose Garden ceremony in Barrett’s honor that seems to have been a major spreader of the virus.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham opened the hearing by defending holding the hearing so close to the presidential election. And he noted the likely outcome of the confirmation process. “All Republicans will vote yes. All Democrats will vote no.”


 

9:05 a.m.

 

Barrett hearings begin with COVID-19 restrictions in place

By The Associated Press

Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing has begun.

The hearing room was largely empty Monday and some senators tuned in virtually, citing the coronavirus.

President Donald Trump nominated Barrett just two weeks ago to fill the seat of the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Sept. 18. Trump and Republicans want Barrett on the bench in time for Election Day, Nov. 3.

The hearing comes as three GOP senators have tested positive for the coronavirus, including two on the Judiciary Committee who now say they are symptom-free. The positive tests came after Trump’s Sept. 26 Rose Garden event announcing Barrett’s nomination. Trump fell ill with COVID-19 about 10 days ago.

Barrett, a conservative, would shift the balance on the court significantly right, from 5-4 in favor of conservatives to 6-3. Democrats worry she would vote to rule the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional. They’re also concerned about her record on abortion.

She was confirmed to the federal appeals court in 2017. Before that, she was a law professor at Notre Dame and was once a clerk for Justice Antonin Scalia.


 

8:42 a.m.

 

Barrett hearings begin Monday as divided Senate charges ahead with confirmation of Trump’s Supreme Court pick

By the Associated Press

Confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett are set to begin as a divided Senate charges ahead on President Donald Trump’s pick to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and cement a conservative court majority before Election Day.

Barrett, a federal appeals court judge, will tell the Senate Judiciary Committee that she is “forever grateful” for Ginsburg’s trailblazing path as a woman. But she is resolved to maintain the perspective of her own mentor, the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia and “apply the law as written,” according to her prepared opening remarks for the hearings, which start Monday as the country is in the grips of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Courts are not designed to solve every problem or right every wrong in our public life,” Barrett says in the remarks, which The Associated Press obtained.