Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham on Tuesday began the second day of the confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett with impassioned broadsides against the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which Democrats have warned Barrett might rule against if she is put on the high court.
“What I’m trying to do very briefly this morning is to demonstrate the difference between politics and judging,” Graham said as he opened the hearing before saying he would present his preferred health care vision.
“All of my colleagues on the other side had emotional pleas about Obamacare,” Graham said. “Obamacare has been a disaster for the state of South Carolina. All of you over there want to impose Obamacare on South Carolina. We don’t want it. We want something better”
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Graham also cited hospital closings, premium increases and a higher proportion of federal money going to blue states under the ACA.
“I want a better deal,” Graham said. “The best way to get innovation is to allow people to try different things to get better outcomes.”
Graham continued to question Barrett on the meaning of originalism, the judicial philosophy she is associated with.
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“You said you are an originalist, is that true?” Graham said. “What does that mean in English?”
“I interpret the Constitution as a law I interpret its text as text,” Barrett said, adding that she does not substitute her own judgment for the original public meaning of the Constitution.
“Justice Scalia was obviously a mentor,” Barrett said of preeminent originalist late Justice Antonin Scalia, for whom she clerked. She added that there are some differences between originalists and that she would be different than him in some ways on the bench.
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The fast-paced questioning by Graham of Barrett, which also touched on a couple of other major precedents including school desegregation and gun rights, and the “severability” doctrine as it applies to the ACA, was the start of what is set to be a marathon two days of hearings.
“We begin tomorrow 30 minutes rounds followed by 20-minute rounds,” Graham said on Monday afternoon as the opening statements in the hearings closed. “Just do the math, we’ve got a couple long days ahead of us, so get some rest.”
The Judiciary Committee plans to give all 22 of its members 30-minutes each to question Barrett on Tuesday in a hearing extending late into the evening.