• Much of Wednesday's questioning was similar to Tuesday's with Barrett declining to be pinned down on specific issues
  • Barrett said she believes "no one is above the law" but declined to say whether a president could pardon himself
  • Barrett said she opposes judicial activism by both conservatives and liberals

Appellate Judge Amy Coney Barrett began showing the strain of marathon questioning on the third day of her Supreme Court Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday, saying she would approach every case with an “open wine.”

Barrett quickly corrected herself, saying, “open mind.”

The flub came during questioning by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., who accused conservative groups of using the Supreme Court to accomplish policy goals they have been unable to push legislatively.

“Senator Whitehouse, I will approach every case with an open wine – open mind,” Barrett said.

It was the second day senators grilled the jurist, President Donald Trump’s third Supreme Court nominee. Barrett again declined to be pinned down on specific issues, including abortion rights, the Affordable Care Act and the upcoming election should the results be challenged.

There was a certain weariness to Wednesday’s questioning as senators covered much the same ground as they had Tuesday.

Barrett’s confirmation is a virtual certainty. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said at the outset he expected all 53 Republican senators to approve and all Senate Democrats to oppose when the matter hits the floor. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, reaffirmed that view Wednesday.

"Judge Barrett is going to be confirmed by this committee and by the full Senate,” Cruz said in opening his questioning, criticizing Democrats for not sitting through the hearing – a point disputed by Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who said many of his colleagues were watching the proceedings in their offices because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Barrett, without saying which way she would vote on the constitutionality of the ACA, which comes before the high court Nov. 10, said she does not believe in judicial activism.

“No matter what somebody's policy preferences are about the ACA, I completely agree with you they shouldn't be trying to undermine the policy that Congress enacted. You and I agree on that, and I embrace that view of a judge's role wholeheartedly,” Barrett said.

Asked whether a president could ignore a Supreme Court decision, Barrett said the court has no mechanism to enforce its rulings.

“As a matter of law, the Supreme Court may have the final word, but the Supreme Court lacks control over what happens after that,” Barrett said, adding, “The Supreme Court can't control whether or not a president obeys.”

She also declined to say whether a president can pardon himself, as Trump has suggested, but said she believes “no one is above the law.”

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