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Highlights of Amy Coney Barrett's questioning at Supreme Court confirmation hearing

Democrats grilled Trump's nominee on health care and abortion, among other issues.

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

Barrett, nominated by President Donald Trump, on Monday delivered her opening statement to the 22-member committee, explaining her judicial philosophy and paying tribute to the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whom she would replace if confirmed. The senators also read their opening statements, previewing the key points that each side is likely to put forward during their questioning.

Senate Democrats focused their questions heavily on the Affordable Care Act. The Supreme Court is set this fall to take up a pivotal case on Obamacare, which Barrett has criticized in the past.

This coverage has ended. Follow the latest on Day 3 of the hearings here.

Read the latest updates below:

Barrett apologizes for earlier comments on sexual 'preference'

Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, pressed Barrett on comments she made earlier Tuesday referring to sexual "preference" instead of sexual orientation.

As advocates have pointed out, the use of the term "preference" over "orientation" frames being a part of the LGBTQ community as a choice.

Barrett replied, "I certainly didn't mean and would never mean to use a term that would" offend LGBTQ Americans. 

"If I did, I greatly apologize for that," she added.

Trump's words haunt Barrett as she vows not to be a 'pawn' on Supreme Court

Sen. Amy Klobuchar speaks during the confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett on Capitol Hill on Oct. 13, 2020.Bill Clark / Pool via AFP - Getty Images

Again and again, Amy Coney Barrett insisted to senators on Tuesday that she has no “agenda” on issues like the Affordable Care Act, the future of abortion rights or same-sex marriage, and that she would be nobody's “pawn” if confirmed to the Supreme Court.

“Do you think we should take the president at his word when he says his nominee will do the right thing and overturn the Affordable Care Act?” Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., asked, displaying a poster of a President Donald Trump tweet criticizing the 2012 ACA decision.

“I can’t really speak to what the president has said on Twitter," Barrett responded. "He hasn’t said any of that to me." She added, "I am 100 percent committed to judicial independence from political pressure.”

The exchange captured the central tension of the Supreme Court hearing: Barrett insisted she will continue to be open-minded, but Trump had already told Americans his judicial picks will faithfully advance his agenda before he put her in the hot seat.

Read the full story.

Blumenthal presses Barrett about past signings of anti-abortion statements

After senators returned from the break, Blumenthal focused his initial questioning around abortion rights and pressed Barrett about her signing of anti-abortion statements in the past, including a 2006 newspaper advertisement sponsored by St. Joseph County Right to Life and a 2013 letter sponsored by the University of Notre Dame's Faculty for Life and Fund to Protect Human Life.

Blumenthal first addressed the 2006 ad, which he said Barrett did not provide to the committee ahead of her initial confirmation hearing to a federal appeals court in 2017. She said she did not include the ad because she "didn't have any recollection of that letter, or statement."

"I signed it almost 15 years ago quickly on my way out of church, and, you know, the questionnaire asks me for 30 years' worth of material, and I've produced more than 1,800 pages, and so I didn't recall it," she said. She later added that the documents amount to "no more than an expression of a pro-life view."

In one contentious exchange, Blumenthal told the story of a rape survivor who was impregnated, asking whether Barrett viewed Roe v. Wade as constitutional and as having been correctly decided. He also shared the experience of a woman who conceived using in vitro fertilization, which the Roman Catholic Church has opposed. Barrett said she would not discuss how she would rule on cases she did not get to take part in.

Committee takes short break

Graham announced the hearing will take a 20-minute recess. 

Senators are expected to return before 4 p.m. ET with Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., set to question Barrett first after the break. 

Senators will proceed until their dinner break, which is expected around 6:30 p.m.

Barrett says her children don't influence her judicial decision-making

Barrett said her life experiences and those of her children do not influence her decision-making on the bench.

In an exchange with Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., Barrett discussed how having a multiracial family and a child with a disability have "shaped me as a person."

"While my life experiences, I think, I hope have given me wisdom and compassion, they don't dictate how I decide cases," she said. The exchange was one of several she had this week related to her family.

On Tuesday, Barrett discussed how when writing "an opinion resolving a case, I read every word from the perspective of the losing party," asking "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. "That is the standard I set for myself in every case, and it is the standard I will follow as long as I am a judge on any court."

Barrett discusses her 'integrity' when asked about handling 2020 election case

Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., pressed Barrett on remarks Trump made prior to her nomination about wanting to have nine justices in place ahead of the election to deal with any potential litigation.

Given that background, Coons asked Barrett if she would "commit to recusing yourself from any case arising from a dispute in the presidential results coming three weeks from now?"

"I want to be very clear to all members of this committee that no matter what anyone else may think or expect, I have not committed to anyone or so much as signaled — I have even written a couple of opinions in the [U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit] that relate to election law," she said. "But I haven't written anything that would make anyone probably say, 'Oh, this is how she would solve an election dispute.'"

"I would consider it — I certainly hope that all members of the committee have more confidence in my integrity than to think I would allow myself to be used as a pawn to decide this election for the American people," she added.

Trump attorneys ask Supreme Court for stay in Manhattan DA's tax case

President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Sanford, Fla., on Oct. 12, 2020.Saul Loeb / AFP - Getty Images

Attorneys for President Donald Trump have asked the Supreme Court for an emergency application to stay — or put on hold — the recent decision by an appeals court to let Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance get Trump’s tax documents pursuant to a grand jury subpoena.

Trump’s attorneys are asking for the stay pending the filing of a writ of certiorari by the president asking the Supreme Court to review the appeals court decision on the grounds that the Manhattan DA’s subpoena is “overbroad” and lacks a “good faith basis,” two arguments the appeals court didn’t buy.

The president’s lawyers argued for a stay because they believe there is an “intensely factual” basis for the Supreme Court to eventually overturn the appeals court decision. Specifically, they argue, “a demand for virtually every financial record of a global corporation and its owner is of course plausibly overbroad if the grand jury is focused on certain payments made in 2016.” 

Read more about what Trump's lawyers are arguing.

Democrats keep mentioning that millions of Americans are already voting

Democrats keep mentioning the fact that millions of Americans are already voting, reminding viewers that Republicans decided to push ahead with the nomination just weeks before polls close and refocusing attention on the looming Supreme Court case challenge to the Affordable Care Act that is scheduled to begin a week after the election. 

"In more than 40 states, people are voting as we speak," Klobuchar said. "Do you think it is faithful to our democratic principles to fulfill a Supreme Court seat this close to the election when people are voting?"

Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., spoke in front of a blown-up calendar with two dates circled in red: Election Day and the day that opening arguments are scheduled in the ACA challenge.

"We are just three weeks from an election," Coons said. "Just a week after that election, the Supreme Court is going to hear a case that could take away health care protections from more than half of all Americans. So this is not an abstract academic argument, it is one that will have real life consequences."

More than 10 million ballots have already been cast in the 2020 election. Polls show that most Americans want to wait until after the election to fill the vacant Supreme Court seat. 

Hundreds of people wait in line for early voting in Marietta, Ga., on Oct. 12, 2020.Ron Harris / AP

ANALYSIS: Barrett implies Roe vs. Wade is vulnerable now and Brown vs. Board could be if there were calls to overturn it

Barrett has said repeatedly that she can’t answer questions designed to elicit her views on cases and rulings to which she was not a party, but Klobuchar elicited from the nominee very clear views on the sanctity of the rulings protecting abortion rights and banning school segregation.

Klobuchar asked Barrett whether the Brown vs. Board of Education school desegregation decision is “superprecedent,” meaning broadly that the bar for overturning it is higher than that for other rulings.

Klobuchar then asked if Roe vs. Wade is a superprecedent.

Barrett would not say that.

Barrett instead answered that the difference is there are no calls to overturn Brown, while the focus on abortion in her ongoing hearing is evidence of disagreement over Roe. Roe is not superprecedent, she implied, because some people think it should be reversed. She added that does not mean that Roe should be overturned.

But the clear indication is that Barrett believes 1) Roe is more susceptible to reversal than Brown and 2) that Brown could cease to become superprecedent if there were suddenly calls to overturn it.

Barrett says abortion decision Roe v. Wade is not a 'superprecedent' protected from reversal

Responding to questioning from Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Barrett said she did not consider Roe v. Wade, the decision that helped ensure a woman's ability to obtain an abortion, to be a "superprecedent" protected from reversal.  

Barrett said that she defined "superprecedent" as a case that is "so well settled that no political actors and no people seriously push for their overruling." 

"I am answering a lot of questions about Roe, which I think indicates that it does not fall in that category," Barrett said, adding that her answers does not mean that Roe should be overturned.

Barrett has written that she feels that Brown v. Board of Education was a superprecedent.

Klobuchar used her time to discuss the "tracks" the Barrett has left throughout her career, arguing that they paint a picture of an extremely conservative judge who would drastically change the shape of the Supreme Court in a way that is out of step with American public opinion. 

"I am then left the looking at the tracks of your record and where it leads the American people and I think it leads to a place that is going to have severe repercussions for them," Klobuchar said in conclusion.