Democrats Ask If More Material Omitted From Barrett Response

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., makes an opening statement during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Sept. 30, 2020. (Stefani Reynolds/Pool via AP)
Matthew Daly
The Associated Press

Washington – Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee are calling on the Justice Department to provide any missing materials from a questionnaire completed by Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.

Barrett, who was nominated to the high court last month by President Donald Trump, signed a 2006 newspaper ad sponsored by an anti-abortion group in which she said she opposed “abortion on demand” and defended “the right to life from fertilization to the end of natural life.”

The ad was not included in materials Barrett provided to the Judiciary Committee for her pending Supreme Court nomination, nor in 2017, when she was nominated to the job she holds as a Chicago-based federal appeals court judge.

In a letter Tuesday signed by all 10 Democrats on the Judiciary panel, lawmakers asked the Justice Department to explain the omission and confirm whether any other materials have been left out from the Senate questionnaire. If so, the department should immediately provide the materials for committee review, the senators said.

A Justice Department spokeswoman said the department has received the letter and is reviewing it.

Democrats don’t have the votes to block Barrett’s nomination, but they are trying to slow it down as Republicans speed ahead with an aggressive timetable, starting with hearings next week, aimed at confirming her before the election. Trump backs moving ahead quickly and on Tuesday called off negotiations on further coronavirus relief, saying Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should focus “full time” on confirming Barrett.

The 2006 ad, an open letter signed by Barrett and others, “opposed women’s reproductive freedoms and explicitly called for overturning Roe v. Wade,” the landmark Supreme Court decision on abortion, senators wrote. The ad also referred to “the barbaric legacy of Roe v. Wade.”

The ad, which had more than 1,200 names attached to it, appears to be the most direct expression of Barrett’s opposition to abortion and has intensified debate over whether she would vote to restrict, if not overturn, abortion rights if confirmed to the Supreme Court.

Barrett’s failure to disclose the 2006 letter “leads to additional questions about other potentially missing materials,” the Democratic senators wrote in the letter.

It also raises concerns that the process of collecting materials responsive to the Senate questionnaire, “like the nomination process itself, has been rushed, for no legitimate reason,” the senators wrote. The letter was signed by California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Judiciary panel, and nine other Democrats.

White House spokesperson Judd Deere said that Barrett, who is Catholic, has distinguished her personal views from her responsibilities as a judge.

In a subsequent statement following the alumni’s letter, Hass encouraged “all members of the Rhodes community to rise to this moment with courage and to speak, act, and vote in the service of justice.”

“I hope that your letter – as well as the support, dissent, and attention it has generated – serves as a spur for robust engagement with the political process,” Hass wrote. She stood by her previous letter and public remarks praising Barrett’s “exceptional record of academic achievement” at Rhodes.

“The college will continue to speak of her with respect and friendship,” Hass wrote. Later, she added, she was “happy to re-affirm my own commitment and the commitment of the college to stand against bigotry and for the rights of minority and marginalized students and alumni.”

Barrett had no public comments on the letter.

Trump has said that he doesn’t know Barrett’s views on Roe v. Wade and didn’t discuss them with her when they met at the White House three days after Ginsburg’s death.

Marus, co-author of the alumni letter, told The Associated Press the letter’s signees were upset and concerned the college’s reputation could be diminished in the eyes of potential and current students who disagree with Barrett and Trump. He called her views “antediluvian,” adding some alumni are terrified of any lifetime appointment for Barrett to the court.

“We thought it was time to speak out,” said Marus. “We never thought we’d change how the Senate voted on her. What we wanted to affect was public perception of Rhodes, the education we received there.”

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