Amy Coney Barrett begins Supreme Court confirmation hearing
Here are highlights of how both sides set the stage for questioning.
The high-stakes confirmation hearing for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, got underway Monday as Senate Republicans push for a final vote before Election Day despite Democratic calls to let voters decide who should pick a new justice.
Trump nominated Barrett to fill the seat left by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
The four days of Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, overseen by chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham, are unprecedented, with some members participating virtually and in-person. Barrett will appear at the witness table to face questions each day.
Hearings start at 9 a.m. each day and will be live streamed on ABC News Live.
Barrett, 48, a devout Roman Catholic, was a law clerk to conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, considers him her mentor and follows his originalist interpretation of the Constitution. She practiced law at a Washington firm for two years before returning to her alma mater, Notre Dame Law School, to teach. She was nominated by Trump to the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in May 2017 and confirmed by the Senate that October in a 55-43 vote.
- Barrett makes opening statement focused on family, conservative judicial philosophy
- Harris claims Barrett will ‘undo the legacy’ of Ginsburg
- Booker says nomination is about overturning Roe v. Wade
- Blumenthal tells Barrett: 'You must recuse yourself' from any election-related cases
- Hawley claims Democrats show 'religious bigotry,' defends Barrett’s Catholic faith
Key takeaways from 1st day of Amy Coney Barrett's Supreme Court nomination hearing
The Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday spent roughly five hours hearing opening statements from lawmakers and Judge Amy Coney Barrett, as they began considering her nomination to the Supreme Court.
While the outcome of the process is not in doubt -- Republicans have the votes and the political will to report her nomination to the full Senate chamber and tee up a final vote before Election Day -- senators previewed their strategies for handling the controversial confirmation process unfolding as Americans are already voting in states across the country.
Day One concludes
After a little under five hours, the first day of Judge Barrett’s confirmation hearing has wrapped.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is slated to return Tuesday at 9 a.m. when Barrett will face several rounds of questioning.
-ABC News’ Trish Turner
Barrett makes opening statement focused on family, conservative judicial philosophy
Judge Barrett, who has been diligent in keeping her mask on throughout the hearing, except for an occasional sip of water, removed it to be sworn in and to deliver her opening statement.
“As I said when I was nominated to serve as a justice, I am used to being in a group of nine -- my family," Barrett began. "Nothing is more important to me, and I am so proud to have them behind me."
Barrett said she'd bring new perspectives to the bench as she'd be the first mother of school-age children to serve, the first justice from the Seventh Circuit in 45 years and the only sitting justice who didn’t attend Harvard or Yale law schools.
After speaking of her own upbringing and family of nine, Barrett turned to how she interprets the law, following in the textualist and originalist approach of Justice Antonin Scalia, for whom she clerked. "It was the content of Justice Scalia's reasoning that shaped me. His judicial philosophy was straightforward: 'A judge must apply the law as it is written, not as she wishes it were,'" she said.
“Justice Scalia taught me more than just law. He was devoted to his family, resolute in his beliefs, and fearless of criticism. And as I embarked on my own legal career, I resolved to maintain that same perspective,” she said. “I worked hard as a lawyer and a professor; I owed that to my clients, my students, and myself. But I never let the law define my identity or crowd out the rest of my life.”
Barrett said a similar principle of separation applies to the role of the courts, a line that will likely pick up traction in questioning from Democrats.
“The policy decisions and value judgments of government must be made by the political branches elected by and accountable to the people. The public should not expect courts to do so, and courts should not try,” she said.
Invoking her children, Barrett described the standards she says she sets for herself on ruling in any court, another line Democrats will likely seize on in their arguments for upholding the Affordable Care Act.
“When I write an opinion resolving a case, I read every word from the perspective of the losing party. I ask myself how would I view the decision if one of my children was the party I was ruling against: Even though I would not like the result, would I understand that the decision was fairly reasoned and grounded in the law?” she said.
Barrett said she never sought out the Supreme Court nomination and thought carefully before accepting, acknowledging she will never take the place of Justice Ginsburg.
“I have been nominated to fill Justice Ginsburg’s seat, but no one will ever take her place. I will be forever grateful for the path she marked and the life she led,” she said.
Blackburn says Democrats should be more supportive of a ‘female legal superstar’
Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., focused her remarks on the rhetoric around Barrett as a woman and mother, questioning why her Democratic colleagues aren’t more supportive of someone she called a “successful female legal superstar.”
“Given your track record, you would think that my colleagues would jump at the opportunity to support a successful female legal superstar, who is highly regarded by both her Democratic and Republican colleagues, and who is a working mom. But as today's increasingly paternalistic and frankly disrespectful arguments have shown, if they had it their way, only certain kinds of women would be allowed into this hearing room," Blackburn said.
“On that note, not so long ago in another hearing they scrutinized your commitment to your Catholic faith and tried to use that as a way to question your competency and your professionalism,” Blackburn said, referring to Judge Barrett’s confirmation hearing to a federal appeals court in 2017, though Barrett's faith has not yet been raised by Democrats in her Supreme Court nomination.
Blackburn, as several of her GOP colleagues before her had done, raised the Justice Kavanaugh hearings and deemed the sexual assault allegation against Kavanaugh another effort “to delay and obstruct legitimate constitutionally sound confirmation hearing.”
“Let's not forget it was the Democrats who took an axe to the process in 2018 when they dropped last-minute, unsubstantiated sexual assault allegations against Justice Kavanaugh. We still don't have the full story about their level and manner of coordination with activists and mainstream media outlets, but what we do know is that they turned that confirmation into a circus.”