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What parents need to know about Amy Coney Barrett's Supreme Court hearing

If confirmed, the mom of seven will fill the seat vacated by the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bade Ginsburg.

amy coney barrett supreme court hearing
Shawn Thew/Getty Images

The Senate Judiciary Committee has officially kicked off its confirmation hearings for Amy Coney Barrett, President Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court.

If confirmed, Barrett will fill the seat vacated by the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Sen. Lindsey Graham opened the day by asserting that the quick confirmation process is constitutional. He also admitted that the hearing would hold few surprises.

"This is probably not about persuading each other unless something really dramatic happens. All Republicans will vote yes, and all Democrats will vote no, and that will be the way the breakout of the vote," he said.

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Senators on the Judiciary Committee gave their 10-minute opening statements before Judge Barrett was sworn in and offered her own statement.

During her opening statement, Judge Barrett explained how her mentor, the late Justice Antonin Scalia, influenced her career and her outlook on the judicial process.

"More than the style of his writing, though, it was the content of Justice Scalia's reasoning that shaped me," Barrett told lawmakers. "His judicial philosophy was straightforward: A judge must apply the law as written, not as the judge wishes it were. Sometimes that approach meant reaching results that he did not like. But as he put it in one of his best known opinions, that is what it means to say we have a government of laws, not of men."

Barrett, the mother of seven children, also used her remarks to discuss her dedication to her family.

"I am used to being in a group of nine—my family. Nothing is more important to me, and I am so proud to have them behind me," she said.

She also said it would be "the honor of a lifetime" to serve on the court, and acknowledged the legacy of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

"I have been nominated to fill Justice Ginsburg's seat, but no one will ever take her place," she said. "I will be forever grateful for the path she marked and the life she led."

Amy Coney Barrett closed her remarks by pledging "to faithfully and impartially discharge my duties to the American people" as a Supreme Court justice.

Judge Barrett is President Trump's third nominee to the nine person court. Her voting record is widely considered to be conservative. Republicans have committed to confirming her as quickly as possible, while Democrats have opposed filling the seat until after the results of the November 3rd election are tallied.

Days before her death the late Ginsburg dictated the following statement to her granddaughter: "My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed."

If she is confirmed, how will Judge Barrett affect the makeup of the Supreme Court? We're taking a look at issues that may affect your family.

Affordable Care Act

Barrett has repeatedly spoken out against the Affordable Care Act, which provides health coverage to more than 20 million Americans.

When the Supreme Court rejected a challenge to the ACA in 2012, Chief Justice John Roberts cast the deciding vote in favor of leaving the ACA alone.

In 2017, Barrett, who was then a Notre Dame professor, wrote an essay arguing that "Chief Justice Roberts pushed the Affordable Care Act beyond its plausible meaning to save the statute. He construed the penalty imposed on those without health insurance as a tax, which permitted him to sustain the statute as a valid exercise of the taxing power."

She continued, "Had he treated the payment as the statute did -- as a penalty -- he would have had to invalidate the statute as lying beyond Congress's commerce power."

In 2015, the Supreme Court rejected another, separate challenge to the ACA. According to CNN, "Barrett remarked on Boston-based National Public Radio program that she thought dissenting justices had 'the better of the legal argument'."

The Supreme Court is set to hear arguments on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act on November 10.

Marriage equality

Judge Barrett has defended the Supreme Court's dissenters on the landmark marriage equality case, Obergefell v. Hodges.

"[Chief Justice Roberts, in his dissent,] said, those who want same-sex marriage, you have every right to lobby in state legislatures to make that happen, but the dissent's view was that it wasn't for the court to decide...So I think Obergefell, and what we're talking about for the future of the court, it's really a who decides question," she said during an academic lecture.

Reproductive rights

During her 2017 Senate confirmation hearings for her seat on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Barrett was asked about her personal views on Roe v. Wade. She answered by stating, "all nominees are united in their belief that what they think about a precedent should not bear on how they decide cases."

At a 2016 event where she was discussing how the Supreme Court might allow more states to pass abortion restrictions, she said, "I think don't think the core case – Roe's core holding that, you know, women have a right to an abortion – I don't think that would change. But I think the question of whether people can get very late-term abortions, how many restrictions can be put on clinics – I think that would change."

Students with disabilities

In the disability discrimination case P.F. v. Taylor, Barrett ruled that a school district should be allowed to reject transferring students with disabilities because their support needs would impact the school's budget negatively. Disability advocates argue that their decision prioritizes budgetary concerns over ADA compliance.

We will update our coverage of Judge Barrett's confirmation hearings as they progress.

[Editor's note: Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.]

Jamie Orsini is an Emmy Award-winning journalist, military spouse, and a mom to two busy toddlers. In her spare time, Jamie volunteers with the Solar System Ambassador program with NASA/JPL and reads anything she can get her hands on. She’s currently working on her first novel.

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