Harris tells Barrett that Ginsburg was 'far more forthcoming' about abortion views

October 14, 2020 

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., hit Judge Amy Coney Barrett for citing the "Ginsburg Rule" in refusing to reveal her views on hot-button Supreme Court cases, noting that the late justice was "far more forthcoming at her hearing about the essential rights of women."

"I'm not going to express a view on whether I agree or disagree with Justice Scalia for the same reasons that I've been giving," Barrett said in deferring to answer questions about same-sex marriage.

She added: "Justice Ginsburg with her characteristic pithiness used this to describe how a nominee should comport herself at a hearing: no hints, no previews, no forecasts. That has been the practice of nominees before her, but everybody calls it the 'Ginsburg Rule' because she stated it so concisely and it's been the practice of every nominee since."

Barrett held to the "Ginsburg Rule" throughout the day while being questioned by Democrats on how she would rule in cases regarding abortion, same-sex marriage and the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

"Judge Barrett, several times today you have quoted Justice Ginsburg's testimony about not making predictions in future cases," said Harris, after a lengthy opening condemning President Trump and his efforts to repeal the ACA.


"However, she was far more forthcoming at her confirmation hearing about the essential rights of women. In 1993, Justice Ginsburg's confirmation hearing shows that she testified that 'The decision whether or not to bear a child is central to a woman's life, to her well-being and dignity. It's a decision she must make for herself. When government controls that decision, she is being treated as less than a fully adult human responsible for her own choices,'" Harris continued.

"Now, Justice Ginsburg did not tell the committee how she would vote in any particular case. But she did freely discuss how she viewed a woman's right to choose," the California senator said.

Harris added: "As senators fill in the seat of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who said the right to choose is essential to woman's equality, I would suggest that we not pretend that we don't know how this nominee views a woman's right to choose, to make her own health care decisions."

Harris also told Barrett, who repeatedly promised to rule as an impartial justice, that there's "reasonable questions about your impartiality."


"You've already opined the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. And that position satisfied the president's promise to only nominate judges who would tear down the Affordable Care Act," Harris said.

Barrett, however, claimed she "never made a commitment" to the president on how she'd rule on the case of the ACA -- set to come before the Supreme Court one week after the election -- based on the legality of its individual mandate. The question is whether the mandate's unconstitutionality renders the whole act unconstitutional.


"Question would be figuring out whether Congress, assuming that the mandate is unconstitutional now, whether that consistent with your intent...would permit the act to stand or whether the flawed portion of it could just be excised out," Barrett said.

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