Klobuchar questions Supreme Court nominee Barrett on rolling back abortion rights

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) delivers remarks about Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh during a mark up hearing in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Sept. 28, 2018.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, pressed Judge Amy Coney Barrett Tuesday during Supreme Court nomination hearings. File photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar pressed Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett on Tuesday about why she doesn’t classify the landmark case that allows pregnant women to choose to have an abortion as “super precedent,” meaning Roe v. Wade would never be overturned.

Barrett told the Minnesota Democrat that scholars have noted that even though Roe v. Wade isn’t considered a “super precedent” case, “that doesn’t mean it should be overruled.”

During the Senate Judiciary Committee’s second day of hearings on Barrett’s nomination, Democrats continuously asked her about her thoughts on abortion cases and if she would overturn the landmark abortion rights ruling.

Barrett has not directly commented during the hearings on her personal views on abortion, but the Guardian newspaper found she signed her name in support of a 2006 newspaper ad sponsored by an anti-abortion group. Barrett is considered a favorite among conservativesm, and that has raised concerns with Democrats who fear she could cast a deciding vote to roll back Roe v. Wade.

If she’s confirmed, she would shift the court considerably to the right, with six conservative judges and three liberal judges.

Klobuchar pulled up an article that Barrett wrote in 2013 for a Texas law review journal about “super precedent” cases such as Brown v. Board of Education that ruled school segregation unconstitutional. She then asked Barrett if she considered Roe v. Wade to be “super precedent.”

“People use ‘super precedent’ differently,” Barrett said. “The way that it’s used in the scholarship and the way that I was using it in the article that you’re reading from was to define cases that are so well settled that no political actors and no people seriously push for their overruling, and I’m answering a lot of questions about Roe, which I think indicates that Roe doesn’t fall in that category.”

Barrett said that while not everyone agrees with the outcome of Roe, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it would be overturned.

“I am then left with looking at the tracks of your record and where it leads the American people,” Klobuchar said. “And I think it leads us to a place that’s gonna have severe repercussions for them.”

President Donald Trump nominated Barrett, a judge on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Sept. 18 from complications of pancreatic cancer. Barrett, 48, clerked for the late Justice Antonin Scalia and worked as a law professor at the University of Notre Dame.

Klobuchar, with a “RBG” pin on her blazer, attended the hearing in-person while a few of her colleagues were remote due to concerns over COVID-19.

During the beginning of her 30 minutes of questioning, Klobuchar stressed how “this hearing is not normal” and that “it is a sham” to rush a Supreme Court confirmation with 20 days until the presidential election.

“We should be doing something else right now,” she said. “We should be passing coronavirus relief.”

More than 215,000 Americans have died from coronavirus, and nearly 8 million have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. The House passed a coronavirus stimulus package, but talks have stalled in the Senate as Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said his main priority was confirming Barrett to the Supreme Court.

Ariana Figueroa
Ariana covers the nation's capital for States Newsroom, including politics and policy, lobbying, elections and campaign finance. Before joining States Newsroom, Ariana covered public health and chemical policy on Capitol Hill for E&E News. She's worked for the Miami Herald and her hometown paper, the Tampa Bay Times. Her work has also appeared in the Chicago Tribune and NPR. She is a graduate of the University of Florida.