Judge Amy Coney Barrett responded to Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) questions about her views on Supreme Court cases that concern the issue of abortion by asserting, “I have no agenda,” and “I’ll follow the law.”
As questioning began in Barrett’s confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Feinstein first went to great lengths to ask Barrett about her family seated behind her.
Then, the senator suggested that, because Barrett has “a lovely family,” and must, therefore, “understand all the implications of family life,” she should also understand that she is “going on the biggest court of this land, with a problem out there that all women see one way or another in their lives.”
Feinstein asked Barrett if she agreed “with Justice Scalia’s view that Roe (Roe v. Wade) was wrongly decided.”
“Senator, I completely understand why you are asking the question,” Barrett replied. “But again, I can’t pre-commit or say, ‘Yes, I’m going in with some agenda,’ because I’m not. I don’t have any agenda. I have no agenda to try to overrule Casey. I have an agenda to stick to the rule of law and decide cases as they come.”
Feinstein pressed further, attempting to obtain Barrett’s views “as a person,” versus as a judge.
“Do you agree with Justice Scalia’s view that Roe can and should be overturned by the Supreme Court?” she asked.
Barrett did not take the bait, however, stating her response was the same:
Because, you know, if that’s a case that’s litigated, it could, you know, its contours could come up again, in fact, do come up, you know, they came up last term before the court. So, I think you know, what the Casey standard is, and it’s a contentious issue, which is, I know, one reason why it would be comforting to you to have an answer. But, I can’t express views on cases or pre-commit to approaching a case any particular way.
The senator said Barrett’s refusal to respond to her questions “makes it difficult” for her.
“And, so, the question comes, what happens?” Feinstein continued. “And will this justice, support a law that has substantial precedent now? Would you commit yourself on whether you would or would not?”
Senator, what I will commit is that I will obey all the rules of stare decisis, that if a question comes before me about whether Casey (Planned Parenthood v. Casey), or any other case would be overruled, that I will follow the law of stare decisis, applying it as the court has articulated it, applying all the factors, reliance, workability, being undermined by later facts and law, all the standard factors. And I promise to do that for any issue that comes up abortion or anything else. I’ll follow the law.
Feinstein’s questioning of Barrett in 2017 created an uproar among Americans of faith when the senator asked about whether her Catholic faith would disqualify her from carrying out her duties to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
“The dogma lives loudly within you,” Feinstein said. “And that’s of concern when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for, for years in this country.”