SCOTUS Nominee Grilled on Voter Rights, Voter Discrimination

Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee caucus during a break in the Amy Coney Barrett confirmation hearings. Source:  Getty Images 

WASHINGTON D.C., October 14, 2020 ~ Lawmakers held a second day of questioning Wednesday in the Senate Judiciary Committee’s confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Nominee Amy Coney Barrett.  At times contentious, Barrett sparred with liberals on topics such as voting rights and voter discrimination amidst a backdrop of the underway presidential election. 

Senator Kamala Harris (D-California) used her 20-minutes of questioning to spotlight the Voting Rights Act, and how a key provision of that landmark civil rights law was gutted by the 2013 Shelby County v. Holder Supreme Court ruling.  Harris contended that the court’s decision in that case led to closures of polling places and other voter suppressions that directly affect minority communities. 

Barrett said, “ … racial discrimination still exists in the United States, and I think we’ve seen evidence of that this summer.”   She stopped short however of saying that voter discrimination against minorities exists.  “I’m not going to express an opinion because these are very charged issues,” said Barrett.  “They have been litigated in the courts and so I will not engage on that question.”

Democrats went on to suggest that Barrett’s adopted philosophies of her mentor, former Justice Antonin Scalia, are a bellwether of how she would vote and how those votes would radically change the direction of the court and the nation.

To illustrate the point, Senator Chris Coons (D-Delaware) displayed a board containing more than 120 cases decided with Justice Ginsburg in the majority and Scalia in the decent.   

Senator Coons said, “My core concern here, your honor, is that your confirmation may launch a new chapter of conservative judicial activism, unlike anything we’ve seen in decades.’ … ‘With all due respect, I will be voting against your confirmation.

“I hope that you aren’t suggesting that I don’t have my own mind, or that I couldn’t think independently or that I would just decide like, ‘Let me see what Justice Scalia has said about this in the past,” said Barrett.  “I assure you I have my own mind.”

Hearings continue today for a fourth and final day, with senators expected to hear competing arguments from legal experts.

Catch gavel-to-gavel coverage live starting at 9 a.m. Thursday at