Barrett Pushes Back Against Feinstein's Hypothetical Question: We Don't Want Judges To Be 'Legal Pundits'


On Tuesday, Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett danced around land mines as she told Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California that she would decide on cases as they come before her and not a moment before that.

Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, wanted Barrett to tip her hand on how she would rule under various scenarios.

“Does the Constitution give the president of the United States the authority to unilaterally delay a general election under any circumstances? Does federal law?” Feinstein asked in one exchange.

Barrett replied that she would rule upon cases, not on speculation.

“If that question ever came before me, I would need to hear arguments from the litigants and read briefs and consult with my law clerks and talk to my colleagues and go through the opinion-writing process,” she said.

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“If I give off-the-cuff answers then I would be basically a legal pundit and I do not think we want judges to be legal pundits. I think we want judges to approach cases thoughtfully and with an open mind,” she added.

Barrett said during Tuesday’s testimony that in her philosophy, the text of the Constitution is paramount.

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“I interpret the Constitution as a law,” she said, according to The New York Times. “The text is text, and I understand it to have the meaning that it had at the time people ratified it. It does not change over time, and it is not up to me to update it or infuse my own views into it.”

Although in her opening statement she praised the influence of Justice Antonin Scalia upon her, she also pushed back against a comment from Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina about people labeling her a “female Scalia.”

“I want to be careful to say that if I am confirmed, you would not be getting Justice Scalia. You would be getting Justice Barrett, and that is so because not all originalists agree,” she said.

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When Feinstein tried to pry a response about the Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion nationwide out of Barrett, the nominee said she would not become a justice with “some agenda” on abortion.

At one point during an exchange with Feinstein, she commented in reference to the Supreme Court’s 1992 ruling in Casey v. Planned Parenthood, another landmark abortion case, “I have no agenda to try and overrule Casey. I have an agenda to stick to the rule of law and decide cases as they come.”

“Judges cannot just wake up one day and say, ‘I have an agenda — I like guns, I hate guns, I like abortion, I hate abortion,’ and walk in like a royal queen and impose their will on the world,” Barrett also said to Graham, the chairman of the judiciary committee.

“It’s distressing not to get a straight answer,” Feinstein eventually said.

When asked about court precedents, Barrett said she would not outline those she likes or dislikes.

“It would actually be wrong and a violation of the cannons for me to do that as a sitting judge,” Barrett said.

“Whether I say I love it or I hate it, it signals that I might tilt one way or another in a pending case.”

She has made and will make no promises to rule a specific way on any issue or case.

“I’m not willing to make a deal — not with the committee, not with the president,” she said according to Forbes.

“I’m independent.”

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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