Democrats turn Amy Coney Barrett hearing into emotional appeal to protect Obamacare

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Senate Democrats placed Obamacare front-and-center during the first day of confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court Monday, many of whom brought examples from their home states of constituents who would be impacted by changes to the ACA.

Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) kicked off the morning on the Democrats’ side, telling the judge that she was skeptical of her fitness to sit on the nation’s highest bench because of her previous critiques of rulings on the topic.

“You’ve been critical of Chief Justice Roberts for his 5-4 opinion upholding the law, stating that Roberts ‘pushed the Affordable Care Act beyond its plausible meaning to save the statute.’ This well could mean that if Judge Barrett is confirmed, Americans stand to lose the benefits that the ACA provides. So I hope you will clarify that in this hearing,” the California Democrat began.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), meanwhile, told the judge that she was being placed on the bench to do President Trump’s political bidding, specifically mentioning the Affordable Care Act.

“Why are Senate Republicans so afraid to give the American people a voice about the future of the Supreme Court? First they must doubt that Donald Trump will be re-elected. Second, they want a 6-3 Supreme Court to carry out a Republican agenda that is really not very popular with the American people,” the Senate Democratic Whip said before bringing up the ACA and the possibility that cases related to the November election could come before the court.

Amy Coney Barrett arrives for a confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary CommitteeAmy Coney Barrett arrives for a confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary CommitteeGetty Images

“Judge Barrett, your nomination for the highest court in the land comes under a cloud. You’ve been nominated by a president who shows contempt for the Constitution, but does not hesitate to tell his loyal followers you are being sent to the bench to do his political chores. Abolish the ACA, rule in his favor, and more. You cannot feel good about a president cheapening this historic moment,” he continued.

The comments come as no surprise, as Democrats were vocal about their plans to focus on health care.

In an interview with NBC News Thursday, Feinstein said, “It’ll be a major focus,” adding that, “There are others.”

In a letter to his Democratic colleagues ahead of the hearings Sunday obtained by Politico, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told lawmakers to focus on “health care, health care, health care.”

“All the data show that with COVID raging, the number one priority for the American people is health care — its affordability, accessibility and quality. We must focus like a laser on health care because Judge Barrett’s record is so clear on this issue,” he instructed the members of his party.

The shift is a significant one from that of the chaotic hearings surrounding the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

U.S. Senate holds confirmation hearing for Barrett to be Supreme Court justice in Washington

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal attends a confirmation hearing of Judge Amy Coney Barrett

REUTERS

U.S. Senate holds confirmation hearing for Barrett to be Supreme Court justice in Washington

U.S. Senate holds confirmation hearing for Barrett to be Supreme Court justice in Washington

U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) attends a confirmation hearing of Judge Amy Coney Barrett

REUTERS

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During Kavanaugh’s 2018 hearings, Democrats took heat for their handling of the process from both sides, something they hoped to avoid this time around.

What won’t be mentioned as a result is Barrett’s Roman Catholic faith, which Feinstein was criticized for bringing up during Barrett’s 2017 confirmation hearings to be a federal judge.

During questioning, Feinstein said, “when you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you and that’s a concern.”

For Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), healthcare will be the focus of her questioning because it is the top concern on Americans’ minds.

“Because this is the No. 1 issue for Americans, this is the No. 1 issue for us,” she told reporters last week.

When the Supreme Court returns next month, it will hear a challenge to the ACA which is backed by the Trump administration’s Justice Department.

If confirmed, Democrats have argued that the Trump-appointed Supreme Court justice would vote in favor of the Trump administration’s challenge to the law.

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