As it happened, though, Justice Ginsburg was quite forthcoming during her hearing about her views on abortion. The main exception to the Ginsburg rule, at least where abortion was concerned, was Justice Ginsburg.
"The decision whether or not to bear a child is central to a woman's life, to her well-being and dignity," Justice Ginsburg said of abortion at her hearings. "It's a decision that she must make for herself. When government controls that decision for her, she's being treated as less than a fully adult human, responsible for her own choices."
In general, though, Justice Ginsburg had taught a master class in avoiding direct responses to senators' questions, Justice Kagan wrote in her 1995 article.
"Justice Ginsburg's favored technique took the form of a pincer movement," Justice Kagan wrote. If a question was too specific, she would decline to answer on the ground that she did not want to forecast a vote. If it was too general, she would say a judge should not deal in abstractions or hypothetical questions.
Justice Kagan explained what was considered too specific: "Roughly, anything that might have some bearing on a case that might someday come before the court." She also described what had been too general: "Roughly, anything else worthy of mention."
Judge Barrett recited the usual factors for considering whether a precedent should be overruled: whether people had come to rely on it in ordering their affairs, whether it was workable in practice and whether it has been undermined by later decisions or factual developments. She would consider those factors, she said, for "abortion or anything else."
She made an exception for Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark 1954 school desegregation case. That was a "super-precedent," she said, "one that is so well-established that it would be unthinkable that it would ever be overruled."