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Amy Coney Barrett Supreme Court confirmation hearing day 3: Highlights and analysis

Trump's nominee faced a second round of questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Judge Amy Coney Barrett faced a second round of questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, the third day of her confirmation hearings for the U.S. Supreme Court.

Barrett, President Donald Trump's nominee to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, on Tuesday also endured a marathon day of questioning from the committee's 22 senators, including Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris.

Democrats on the committee asked her to explain her positions on the Affordable Care Act, abortion rights, the upcoming election and other contentious issues that she might need to rule on if she is confirmed.

Read the latest updates below:

Live Blog

Barrett declines to answer whether child separation is 'wrong'

During questioning from Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., Barrett refused to say whether she thought separating children from their parents at the border is "wrong."

Saying he considered the answer "obvious," Booker asked, "Do you think it is wrong to separate children from their parents" in order to deter "immigrants from coming to the United States?" 

Barrett told him, "That has been a matter of policy debate" and "hot political debate in which I cannot express a view or be drawn into as a judge."

Booker kept pressing, asking, "As a human being, do you believe that is wrong?"

Barrett again declined to answer, saying she would not comment on the morality of the position and "cannot be drawn into a debate about the administration's immigration policy."

Hirono pays tribute to RBG with mask, pin

Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, wearing a mask depicting illustrations of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, listens as Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the third day of her Supreme Court confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill on Oct. 14, 2020.Andrew Caballero-Reynolds / Pool via Getty Images

Barrett says Supreme Court's election role would be to keep it 'fair'

After dodging questions about the upcoming election earlier in the hearing, Barrett said the Supreme Court's role should only to be ensure a "fair" election.

Asked by Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., if the Supreme Court would elect the next president, Barrett said its role would be to make sure the results are protected. 

"While it's impossible to predict what aspect [of the election] would be challenged," Barrett said, election laws "are designed to protect the right to vote."

She was then asked by Tillis if she agreed that every registered voter in the country should vote on Nov. 11, which is eight days after the Nov. 3, Election Day. "Of course," she answered.

Barrett sidesteps question on pandemic restrictions involving churches and protests

Barrett sidestepped a question from Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., on her views on pandemic restrictions against protests as opposed to religious worship.

"Those aren't things I'd be able to comment on," she told him. 

Asked how she'd evaluate such cases, Barrett said, "The general position is the government has a compelling interest in responding to” a public health crisis, but "First Amendment concerns would “come into play as well.”

 

Graham blames technical problems on 'the curse of the Astros'

After Graham announced a break while they worked on the audio problems, the mics briefly flickered on at a little after 3 p.m. ET, but still didn't work properly. 

Graham then gaveled the hearing back in at 3:14 p.m. ET after waiting for Barrett to return while the mic issues were being fixed; he had been waiting for the nominee to come back to her seat for quite some time.

“Can someone go find Judge Barrett? Let’s go while we can go,” Graham said.

The chairman jokingly blamed the mic problem on “the curse of the Astros” — a reference to a lighthearted exchange earlier in the day among Sens. Sasse, Cornyn and Cruz.

Sen. Tillis, whose turn had only just come up when the mics went out, is returning to his questions now.

Graham says after more audio problems, “Are we not paying the bills?”

After the mics in the hearing room apparently stopped working a second time, Graham, visibly annoyed, asked, “Are we not paying the bills?”

Graham had only gaveled the hearing back in a little while earlier after a roughly 40-minute unexpected break due to the technical issues. 

 

Barrett deflects more questions on birth control case

Barrett was pressed for her views on the precedent set in the case of Griswold v. Connecticut, which protects the right to buy and use contraception for married couples, where she declined to answer and suggested the inquiry was irrelevant. 

"I would be surprised if people were afraid birth control was going to be criminalized," Barrett told Blumenthal. 

As for how she would have ruled had she been on the high court at the time the case was decided, she said, "I can't give a yes or no answer."

Coons had asked Barrett about the case earlier in the day, and she wouldn't say whether she thought it was correctly decided.

"I think Griswold isn't going anywhere unless you plan to pass a law prohibiting couples or all people from using birth control ... It seems unthinkable that any legislature would pass such a law," Barrett told Coons. 

Hearing paused a second time after technical problem

The hearing was paused for a second time after a technical problem made microphones stop working. 

Barrett hearing resumes after technical problem

The Barrett hearing has resumed following an unscheduled almost 40-minute break after technicians solved a sound issue that deadened the microphones. 

The sound cut out shortly after Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., had begun questioning the judge. 

"Sorry about the interruption," Judiciary Chair Sen. Lindsey Graham said as the hearing resumed.

Senators spent the break milling around the hearing room and chatting in their masks until the sound issue was resolved. Barrett spent some of the time in a separate holding room.  

Technical difficulties lead to unscheduled Barrett break

Graham called a 10-minute break at Barrett's hearing after her microphone went dead while she was being questioned by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.

The problem also seemed to strike all the senators, leading Graham to jokingly call out that "the Russians" were responsible. He called a recess while they try to fix the problem.