Barrett: Not on a “mission to destroy” the Obama health law

In her first full day of questions from Senators at confirmation hearings on Capitol Hill, Judge Amy Coney Barrett denied charges from Democrats that she was part of a broad effort by conservatives and Republicans to get rid of the Affordable Care Act, as she jousted with Democrats over how she would rule on major issues if confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“I’m not here on a mission to destroy the Affordable Care Act,” Barrett said, brushing off suggestions that her rulings could easily be predicted as a Justice.

“I am 100 percent committed to judicial independence,” Barrett said at one point in Tuesday’s session.

Without prompting, Barrett several times denied that she had been part of any corrupt bargain with President Trump, saying she had never promised anyone to vote a certain way on a specific issue.

In part of a lengthy exchange with Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), Barrett rejected assertions that she had criticized the original ruling which upheld the Obama health law, authored by Chief Justice John Roberts.

“I think you’re unmistakably criticizing this decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act,” Coons told Barrett.

Earlier, she also rejected the same claim from Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).

“You said that I criticized Chief Justice Roberts,” Barrett said in reference to a book review she wrote about one of the Obamacare cases. “I don’t attack people, just ideas.”

That did not assuage the concerns of Democrats, with a case scheduled for one week after the November elections which could overturn the entire Obama health law.

Along with health care, Democrats also pressed Barrett on abortion, as the federal appeals court judge signaled that she was open to changes in the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.

Barrett also faced a number of questions related to this year’s elections, not taking any stance on voter intimidation issues, and not saying if she would recuse herself from taking part in any cases about the 2020 elections.

“I certainly hope that all members of the committee have more confidence in my integrity than to think that I would allow myself to be used as a pawn to decide this election for the American people,” said Barrett.

“I can’t offer a legal conclusion right about the outcome of the decision I would reach,” Barrett said of a recusal request from Democrats.

Jamie Dupree, CMG Washington News Bureau

Radio News Director of the Washington Bureau