Senator and Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Kamala Harris grilled Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett Tuesday, alleging Barrett was picked by Trump simply to get rid of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
“Prior to your nomination, were you aware of President Trump’s statements committing to nominate judges who will strike down the Affordable Care Act?” Harris asked Coney Barrett. “And I’d appreciate a yes or no answer.”
Coney Barrett replied that she wanted “to be very careful” with her answer because she was under oath.
“As I’m sitting here, I don’t recall seeing those statements, but if … let’s see, I don’t recall seeing or hearing those statements, but I don’t really know what context they were in, so I guess I can’t really definitively give you a yes or no answer.”
Harris’ grilling of Coney Barrett came late in the first day of questioning before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The situation was a sight to behold considering they both may have a new job next month.
One week after the presidential election, the Supreme Court will rule in Texas v. California, a case that, if decided in favor of Texas, could nullify a key provision of the Obama-era health law, which extended insurance coverage to millions.
Coney Barrett, currently a federal appellate judge, faced tough questions on how she would rule in that case but avoided giving a straight answer several times. More cases are sure to come down to a Supreme Court decision as Republican Attorneys General continue to challenge the law.
Harris continued to tie Coney Barrett to the repeal effort saying “Since President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, Senate Republicans’ No. 1 priority has been to tear it down.”
Other Democrats pointed out that the ACA has faced more than 70 legislative challenges in Washington, all of which have lost. The former California attorney general described it as a “decade of failure,” for Republicans.
Harris did ask one question that seemed to baffle Coney Barrett. Harris asked about a 2017 book review Coney Barrett wrote while she was teaching at Notre Dame. In the review, she said in a ruling protecting part of the ACA, Chief Justice John Roberts “pushed the Affordable Care Act beyond its plausible meaning to save the statute.”
Harris asked how long after she wrote her review did Trump first nominate her for the Seventh Circuit of Appeals where she currently sits.
“I don’t remember the timing of that article,” Coney Barrett said.
Harris, however, was quick to tell Coney Barrett that it was less than six months later when she was nominated to the appeals circuit, indicating Barrett’s anti-ACA stance made her attractive to conservatives including Trump.
“The Affordable Care Act and all its protection hinge on this seat, and the outcome of this hearing,” Harris argued.
The ACA was a contentious bill when it was signed. but in the years since not only has it grown in popularity amongst average Americans, but with the coronavirus pandemic still in full effect and entering a second wave as the election draws near, it has received significant support.