CLOSE

The second day of Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing quickly turned to discussion of a few notable high court cases, including key decisions on abortion and gun rights. Barrett told senators that it is her job to follow the law of the United States, not the “Law of Amy.” (Oct. 13)

AP Domestic

WASHINGTON – Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett fought back Tuesday against caricatures that she is a committed advocate for conservative causes chosen by President Donald Trump to do his bidding on issues ranging from abortion to the Affordable Care Act.

In a marathon session before the Senate Judiciary Committee just three weeks from Election Day, Barrett was put on the defensive by Democrats charging that she was picked because of her views on abortion, gun rights, same-sex marriage and particularly the health care law headed to the high court for the third time next month.

“That is their stated objective and plan. Why not take them at their word?” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., said in reference to Republicans and special-interest groups backing Barrett’s nomination.

Barrett strived to show her independence from the president and conservative forces that have joined together in hopes of a speedy confirmation, wedged tightly between Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death and an election that Trump has made clear could be challenged in court.

“I certainly hope that all members of the committee have more confidence in my integrity than to think that I would allow myself to be used as a pawn to decide the election for the American people,” Barrett said.

More: Supreme Court begins 2020 term as a key election issue: Will it decide the election, too?

In essence, she came to the hearing with an agenda: to assure senators she has no agenda.

“Judges cannot just wake up one day and say: ‘I have an agenda. I like guns. I hate abortion,’ and walk in like a royal queen and impose their will on the world,” she said.

Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett listens during a confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. (Photo: Bonnie Cash, AP)

Despite efforts by Democrats to paint her as a hard-right conservative, Barrett refused to be pinned down on such hot-button issues as race and LGBTQ rights. When the subject of racial justice came up, she recounted how she wept with one of her daughters, who is Black and adopted from Haiti, over the death of George Floyd while being pinned down by police in Minneapolis. 

“Racism persists in our country,” she said, but she added that fixing racism is a question for the other branches of government to handle.

More: Amy Coney Barrett says George Floyd video was personal for family

Throughout what would become a 12-hour day, including long-winded statements from senators during which Barrett sat stone-faced, the 48-year-old federal appeals court judge and law school professor from Indiana sought to define herself as someone who puts personal views aside and addresses legal