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Chairman Graham Questions Judge Barrett

WASHINGTON?– Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today questioned Judge Barrett on the second day of her Supreme Court nomination hearing.

On Judge Barrett being nominated for the Supreme Court:

GRAHAM: “How’s it feel to be nominated for the Supreme Court of the United States?”

JUDGE BARRETT: “Well Senator, I've tried to be on a media blackout for the sake of my mental health. But, you know, you can't keep yourself walled off from everything, and I'm aware of a lot of caricatures that are floating around…I've made distinct choices. I've decided to pursue a career and have a large family. I have a multiracial family, our faith is important to us. All of those things are true, but they are my choices. And in my personal interactions with people – and I have a life brimming with people who've made different choices – And I've never tried in my personal life to impose my choices on them. And the same is true professionally. I mean, I apply the law. And, Senator, I think I should say why I'm sitting in this seat in response to that question too…Because I don't think it's any secret to any of you or to the American people that this is a really difficult, some might say excruciating, process. Jesse and I had a very brief amount of time to make a decision with momentous consequences for our family. We knew that our lives would be combed over for any negative detail. We knew that our faith would be caricatured. We knew our family would be attacked. And so we had to decide whether those difficulties would be worth it. Because what sane person would go through that if there wasn't a benefit on the other side? And the benefit, I think, is that I’m committed to the rule of law and the role of the Supreme Court and dispensing equal justice for all… And my family is all in on that because they share my belief in the rule of law.”


On originalism and judicial philosophy:

GRAHAM: “You said you're an originalist, is that true? What does that mean, in English?”

BARRETT: “…that means that I interpret the Constitution as a law, that I interpret its text as text, and I understand it to have the meaning that it had at the time people ratified it. So that meaning doesn't change over time. And it's not up to me to update it or infuse my own policy views into it.”

GRAHAM: “Justice Scalia was an originalist, right?”

BARRETT: “Yes, he was.”

GRAHAM: “People say that you're a ‘female Scalia’. What would you say?”

BARRETT: “I would say that Justice Scalia was obviously a mentor. And as I said when I accepted the President's nomination, that his philosophy is mine, too… But I want to be careful to say that if I'm confirmed, you would not be getting Justice Scalia. You would be getting Justice Barrett. And that's so because originalists don't always agree, and neither do textualists.”


On personal beliefs:

GRAHAM: “What I want the American people to know, I think it's okay to be religiously conservative. I think it's okay to be personally pro-choice. I think it's okay to live your life in a traditional Catholic fashion. And you’ll still be qualified in the Supreme Court. So all the young conservative women out there, this hearing to me, is about a place for you. I hope when this is all over that there will be a place for you at the table. There'll be a spot for you at the Supreme Court, like there was for [Justice] Ginsburg.”


On the importance of listening to both sides of an argument:

GRAHAM: “Unlike [Brown v. Board of Education], there are states challenging on the abortion front. There are states that are going to a fetal heartbeat bill. I have a bill, Judge, that would disallow abortion on demand at the 20 weeks, the fifth month of the pregnancy. We’re one of seven nations in the entire world that allow abortion on demand and at the fifth month. The construct of my bill is because a child is capable of feeling pain in the fifth month, doctors tell us to save the child's life you have to provide anesthesia if you operate because they can feel pain. The argument I'm making is if you have to provide anesthesia to save the child's life because they can feel pain, it must be a terrible death to be dismembered by an abortion. That's a theory to protect the unborn at the fifth month. If that litigation comes before you we listen to both sides?”

BARRETT: “Of course, I would do that in every case.”

GRAHAM: “So I think 14 states have already passed a version of what I've just described. So there really is a debate in America still, unlike Brown v. Board of Education, about the rights of the unborn.”