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Friday October 30th, 2020 12:56AM

The Latest: Barrett steers clear of transfer of power issue

By The Associated Press
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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett (all times local):

6:10 p.m.

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.

___

5:25 p.m.

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 Mazie Hirono of Hawaii warning Barrett that the term is “offensive and outdated.”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.”

___

4:45 p.m.

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.

—-

4:30 p.m.

The Barrett children attended their mother’s Senate confirmation hearing just days after multiple cases of coronavirus were reported at the private Christian school in Indiana attended by some of the older siblings.

Mark D. Fox, deputy health officer of the health department in St. Joseph County, Indiana, said on Tuesday that three cases were reported Friday from the Trinity School at Greenlawn. The school, affiliated with the People of Praise religious community, has been holding in-person classes with such precautions as daily temperature screenings, wearing masks when indoors and social distancing.

Fox said it is his understanding that one teacher and two students tested positive. It was not immediately clear whether any of the Barrett children had close contact with those infected.

A White House official said Tuesday that Amy Coney Barrett is tested daily for COVID-19 and that her children had also recently tested negative for the virus, though the official declined to provide the dates of those tests.

—By Michael Biesecker.

___

4 p.m.

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.

___

3:45 p.m.

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.

___

3:05 p.m.

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.

12:10 p.m.

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.

___

HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT WHAT’S HAPPENING IN THE SUPREME COURT CONFIRMATION HEARINGS:

Barrett is facing senators’ questions during a second day of confirmation hearings. Republicans control the Senate and want to confirm President Donald Trump’s pick to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before Election Day to cement a conservative court majority.

Read more:

— Health care law on line at court, but is it likely to fall?

— Takeaways: Coronavirus at center of Supreme Court hearings

— Barrett hearing turns to discussion of few high court cases

— Joe Biden addresses idea of high court packing: 'I’m not a fan'

___

HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

11:50 a.m.

Judge Amy Coney Barrett says the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May had a “very personal” effect on her family and she and her children wept over his death.

President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court made the comments at her Senate confirmation hearings on Tuesday, three weeks before Election Day. Barrett was asked by Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin whether she had seen the footage of a police officer pressing a knee to the Black man’s neck until he stopped breathing. Barrett said she had.

Barrett has two Black adopted children. She says the Floyd video was “very, very personal” for her family and they “wept together.”

Floyd’s death touched off mass demonstrations about police brutality and reform around the country.

Barrett made a distinction between her feelings as a person and her role as a judge, refusing to give her thoughts on systemic racism as Durbin had requested. She said commenting on what policies should be used to combat racism would be “kind of beyond what I’m capable of doing as a judge.”

___

11:35 a.m.

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 Virginia 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.

___

10:50 a.m.

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 how she’d rule in possible 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.

___

10:15 a.m.

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.

___

10 a.m.

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.

___

9:55 a.m.

Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett says the confirmation process is “excruciating” but that that she accepted President Donald Trump’s nomination because she is “committed to the rule of law” and the role of the Supreme Court.

Barrett said that “if the difficulty is the only reason to say no, I should serve my country.” She added that even though there are “momentous consequences” for her family, they are “all-in” on the decision because they share her belief in the rule of law.

Still, she said she has tried to be on a “media blackout for the sake of my mental health.”

Barrett said she and her husband “knew that our lives would be combed over for any negative detail, we knew that our faith would be caricatured, we knew our family would be attacked.”

___

9:40 a.m.

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.

___

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Online Supreme Court News, AP Health, AP Elections, General Election News, General Presidential Election News, AP Business, AP Health - Women's health
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