As Senate Democrats on Monday focused on how Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett could rule on the Affordable Care Act, some comments drew criticism for apparent anti-Catholic bigotry.
The Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday held the first in a series of hearings to consider the nomination of Seventh Circuit Court Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. Barrett is a Catholic mother of seven children, including two adopted children, and formerly taught at the University of Notre Dame law school.
Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., in his opening statement in the confirmation hearings for Barrett, warned that Barrett’s confirmation could lead to some previous Supreme Court rulings being overturned in the future, including Griswold v. Connecticut which found a right to contraception.
The comment triggered a rebuke by Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., who saw Coons’ warning about contraception being at risk as an “another hit” on Barrett’s Catholic faith, given the Church’s teaching against contraception. Hawley said that the assertion was unfounded, as the Griswold decision has not been challenged in decades.
Monday’s hearing consisted of opening statements from committee members, and from Barrett herself, as well as Indiana senators and a former dean of the University of Notre Dame Law School. Subsequent hearings will feature senators asking questions of Barrett and of other witnesses summoned to testify about her nomination.
Barrett, in her opening remarks, said that she believed “Americans of all backgrounds deserve an independent court that interprets our Constitution and laws as they are written.” She also said that policy decisions should not be left to the Court.
“The policy decisions and value judgements of government must be made by the political branches elected by and accountable to the People,” she said.
Senate Democrats on Monday focused most of their statements on the supposed threat that Barrett’s confirmation would pose to the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
In 2017, Barrett authored an essay that was critical of Chief Justice John Roberts’ decision to uphold the law’s individual mandate, which she said “pushed the Affordable Care Act beyond its plausible meaning to save the statute.” The “individual mandate” was the law’s requirement that American adults purchase health insurance.
The latest challenge to the ACA will be heard by the Court on Nov. 10, in the cases of California v. Texas and Texas v. California.
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