Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, whose confirmation hearings begin Monday, will tell the Senate Judiciary Committee that “policy decisions and value judgments” should be made by elected officials, not the courts, according to her opening statement released Sunday.
The 48-year-old federal appeals court judge, whose ascension to the high court would cement a conservative majority, also will pay tribute to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a legal icon whose death last month created the court vacancy she has been nominated to fill, and to Barrett’s mentor, Justice Antonin Scalia, according to the prepared remarks.
The confirmation hearings come against a tumultuous backdrop: the final weeks of a bitterly fought presidential campaign, which has been roiled by President Trump’s bout with the coronavirus and his claims that a COVID-19 outbreak that has killed more than 214,000 Americans will soon disappear.
Barrett’s nomination has become a contentious campaign issue, both because Democrats are outraged by the Republican push to confirm her even after voting in the presidential election has begun in many states, and because Trump’s rival, Joe Biden, warns that Barrett will side with conservative efforts to gut the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.
And Trump has repeatedly made clear in public statements that he is mindful of the fact that the court could be called upon to play a role in a messy, contested election result.
Barrett’s opening statement appeared carefully crafted to emphasize her respect for precedent and settled law while skirting direct commentary on broad social issues. The courts are “not designed to solve every problem or right every wrong in our public life,” the judge’s statement says.
“The policy decisions and value judgments of government must be made by the political branches elected by and accountable to the people,” Barrett says in the statement. “The public should not expect courts to do so, and courts should not try.”
In her opening remarks, Barrett, a mother of seven, will speak extensively about her husband and children. Trump has frequently expressed delight over the fact that his nominee has young children.
“I am used to being in a group of nine — my family,” Barrett says in the statement. “Nothing is more important to me, and I am so proud to have them behind me.”
The four days of hearings will begin with her opening statement, with hours of questioning on Tuesday and Wednesday by interlocutors on the Judiciary Committee, who will include Biden’s running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris.
Jennifer Haberkorn in Washington contributed to this report.