During an exchange with Sen. Kamala Harris Wednesday, Amy Coney Barrett refused to say whether she thinks race discrimination in voting still exists. She also declined to express a view on climate change because it's a “matter of public policy.” (Oct. 14)
KAMALA HARRIS: My question, however, is, do you agree with Chief Justice Roberts, who said voting discrimination still exists, no one doubts that? Do you agree with that statement?
AMY CONEY BARRETT: Senator Harris, I will not comment on what any justice said in opinion, whether an opinion is right or wrong, or endorse that proposition.
KAMALA HARRIS: Well, I'm asking you-- so do you call it a proposition or a fact? Are you saying you do not agree with the fact?
AMY CONEY BARRETT: Senator, I'm not going to make a comment. I'm not going to say that I endorse either the majority or the dissent in the case of Shelby County.
KAMALA HARRIS: Well, I just want to understand. Are you saying that you refuse to dispute a known fact, or that you refuse to agree with a known fact?
AMY CONEY BARRETT: Senator, I'm not exactly sure what you're getting at with asking me to endorse the fact or whether any particular practice constitutes voter discrimination. I'm very happy to say that I think racial discrimination still exists in the United States, and I think we've seen evidence of that this summer.
KAMALA HARRIS: And do you accept that COVID-19 is infectious?
AMY CONEY BARRETT: I think, yes, I do accept that COVID-19 is infectious, that that's something of which I feel like we could say you take judicial notice of. It's an obvious fact, yes.
KAMALA HARRIS: Do you accept that smoking causes cancer?
AMY CONEY BARRETT: I'm not sure exactly where you're going with this, but the notice that smoking causes--
KAMALA HARRIS: [INAUDIBLE] the question is what it is. You can answer if you believe, yes or no.
AMY CONEY BARRETT: Senator Harris, yes, every package of cigarettes warns that smoking causes cancer.
KAMALA HARRIS: And do you believe that climate change is happening, and it's threatening the air we breathe and the water we drink?
AMY CONEY BARRETT: Senator, again, I'm wondering where you were going with that. You have asked me a series of questions that are completely uncontroversial, like whether COVID-19 is infectious, whether smoking causes cancer, and then trying to analogize that to eliciting an opinion on me that is a very contentious matter-- opinion from me that is on a very contentious matter of public debate.
And I will not do that. I will not express a view on a matter of public policy, especially one that is politically controversial, because that's inconsistent with the judicial role, as I have explained.
KAMALA HARRIS: Thank you, Judge Barrett. And you've made your point clear, that you believe it's a debatable point.