“I assure you I have my own mind”: Democrats grill Amy Coney Barrett in hearings

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In a lengthy exchange on Tuesday with Senator Chris Coons, a Democrat from Delaware, Barrett was asked about a law review article she wrote in 2017 when she was a law professor at Notre Dame. 

In the article, Barrett wrote that Chief Justice John Roberts, who sided with the court’s liberal wing to uphold the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act in 2012, “has not proven himself to be a textualist in matters of statutory interpretation.” She argued Roberts “pushed the Affordable Care Act

beyond its plausible meaning to save the statute” in the 2012 case, known as NFIB v. Sebelius. 

Coons said the article showed Barrett would have voted to strike down the law, and might do so when the court considers another case concerning the ACA next month. Barrett said she “did express a critique” but said it would have no bearing on her judgment in the upcoming case.

“I guess I’m a little uncertain what it indicates, because as I’ve said, I have no hostility to the ACA. If a case came up before me, presenting a different question to the ACA, I would approach it with no bias or hostility,” she said.

She added that “the exercise of being a commentator or an academic is much different than the exercise of judging, and I didn’t have to sit in Chief Justice Roberts’ seat or Justice Scalia’s seat with NFIB v. Sebelius was decided.”

“But you will, if we follow the timeline laid out by my colleagues. You will sit in former Justice Ginsburg’s seat,” Coons countered. “And you will sit as a member of the court deciding a case that is very similar to a previous one.”

“I’m standing before the committee today saying that I have the integrity to act consistently with my oath and apply the law as the law. To approach the ACA and every other statute without bias, and I have not made any commitments or deals or anything like that,” she said soon after. “I’m not here on a mission to destroy the Affordable Care Act. I’m just here to apply the law and adhere to the rule of law.”

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