September 26, 2021

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WATCH: Sen. Chris Coons questions Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett

2 min read

Sen. Chris Coons, D-Conn., questioned Judge Amy Coney Barrett on Oct. 14, the third day of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing. Coons asked about the “originalist” judicial philosophy held by Barrett’s mentor, the late Justice Antonin Scalia, which holds that “the authoritative meaning of the Constitution is what it meant when ratified.” “I think the American people need to better understand what that originalist philosophy could really mean for their everyday lives,” Coons said. “Because I think it means our entire modern understanding of certain constitutional commitments around liberty, privacy and equality under the law could in fact be rolled back to 19th — or even 18th — century understandings in a way unrecognizable to most Americans.”
Coons pressed Barrett about her views on the case Griswold v. Connecticut, which granted married couples the right to utilize contraceptives without government restriction. He noted the ways that case has anchored “a lot of modern liberty interests in personal and family autonomy,” including cases that upheld the right of unmarried couples to use birth control, the right to abortion and the right of same-sex couples to marry. Observing that Justice Scalia “publicly disagreed with or dissented” in each of these cases, Coons asked “what it means to replace a Justice Ginsburg with someone who may more closely follow Justice Scalia’s approach.”
“I do share Justice Scalia’s approach to text — originalism and textualism — but in the litany of cases that you’ve just identified, the particular votes that he cast are a different question of whether I would agree with the way that he applied those principles in particular cases,” Barrett said. She added that she has her “own mind,” and that although she shares his philosophy, she’s never said that she would “always reach the same outcome as he did.”
The hearing came about three weeks before Election Day. The third of four days of scheduled testimony gave senators another opportunity to ask Barrett about her record and approach to the law.

Watch highlights from from Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing – Day 1:

Watch highlights from Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing – Day 2:

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