It only took Democrats two days into the confirmation hearings of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to bring up the subject of sexual assault on Tuesday.
Hawaii Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono asked Judge Amy Coney Barrett, a devout practicing Catholic and mother of seven children, if she has ever sexually assaulted anyone.
After delivering remarks on “ensuring the fitness of nominees,” Hirono questioned whether Barrett had ever been accused of sexual impropriety or entered into an agreement to related to inappropriate sexual conduct.
“Citing a statement from Chief Justice John Roberts in 2017 in which he acknowledged that the judiciary ‘is not immune’ from the problem of sexual misconduct, Hirono said it is her duty ‘to ensure the fitness of nominees’ for positions that have lifetime appointments,” Fox News reported late Tuesday.
“Since you became a legal adult, have you ever made unwanted requests for sexual favors, or committed any physical or verbal harassment or assault of a sexual nature?” Hirono asked Barrett.
“No, Senator Hirono,” Barrett replied.
Hirono then asked Barrett, “Have you ever faced discipline or entered into a settlement related to this kind of conduct?”
Barrett again said no.
Sen. Mazie Hirono asks ACB “since you became a legal adult, have you ever made unwanted requests for sexual favors or committed any verbal or physical harassment or assault of a sexual nature?” pic.twitter.com/6JgLkoIXIF
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) October 13, 2020
Several other Democrats had notable exchanges with Barrett on Tuesday.
Barrett set the record straight during a line of questioning from Minnesota Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar on Tuesday, telling the Democratic lawmaker she never “attacks people, just ideas.”
“Did you say that? That he pushed the Affordable Care Act beyond its plausible meaning?” asked Klobuchar.
“You said that I criticized Chief Justice Roberts. I don’t attack people, just ideas,” said Judge Barrett.
— Steve Guest (@SteveGuest) October 13, 2020
While being grilled by Democrat Senator Dick Durbin, Barrett told Durbin: “I am not hostile to the ACA. I am not hostile to any statute that you pass.”
She then explained: “I apply the law, I follow the law. You make the policy.”
“I am not hostile to the ACA. I am not hostile to any statute that you pass,” Barrett tells Sen. Dick Durbin.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) October 13, 2020
During a different part of the hearing, Barrett declined to weigh in on expanding seats to the Supreme Court.
Under questioning from Republican Senator Mike Lee, Barrett noted that there was no constitutional provision dictating how many justices should be on the Supreme Court.
Some Democrats have proposed adding seats to the Supreme Court to counter the conservative majority on the court. Lee asked Barrett whether she thought that expanding the court would upset the balance of the three branches of government.
“It’s difficult for me to imagine what specific constitutional question you’re asking me,” Barrett replied, saying that the question was too hypothetical.
Barrett also had a powerful moment when she discussed the impact of George Floyd’s death on her family.
Durbin asked Barrett whether she had watched the video of the death of Floyd, a Black man who died after being pinned to the ground for nearly nine minutes by police officers in May.
Barrett, who has two adopted Black children from Haiti, said she had seen the video, and that it had been “very, very personal” for herself and her family. She described explaining Floyd’s death to her children, and how they struggled with it.
“My children, to this point in their life, have had the benefit of growing up in a cocoon where they have not yet experienced hatred or violence,” Barrett said.
Barrett on George Floyd video: “Given that I have two black children, that was very, very personal for my family.” She and her 17-year-old daughter adopted from Haiti “wept together,” and she explained her daughter might one day have a son who could face “that kind of brutality” pic.twitter.com/FCabcL0iQl
— CBS News (@CBSNews) October 13, 2020
Barrett was also asked whether she believed that systemic racism existed in the country.
She said that she believes it is an “entirely uncontroversial and obvious statement” to say “that racism persists in our country.”
But she said that “putting her finger on the nature of the problem” was not her responsibility.