Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett on Tuesday stood by her signing of a newspaper pro-life ad and her membership in a faculty pro-life group, although she did not disclose to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee how she may rule in future abortion cases.
If confirmed by the full Senate, Barrett would replace the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg and become the fifth woman to serve on the Supreme Court. She also would – according to Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) – become the first “woman who's unashamedly pro-life” to serve on the high court.
Multiple Democratic senators, including Sens. Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) and Kamala Harris (Calif.), referenced a 2006 pro-life newspaper ad that included Barrett’s name and said the undersigned “oppose abortion on demand and support the right to life from fertilization to natural death.”
Barrett told GOP Sen. Josh Hawley (Mo.) she signed the ad while walking out of church with her family. It was sponsored by the St. Joseph County Right to Life.
“At the back of church there was a table set up for people on their way out of mass to sign a statement validating their commitment to the position of the Catholic church on life issues,” Barrett said. “... The statement that I signed, it was affirming the protection of life from conception to natural death.”
Barrett also was a member of Faculty for Life at the University of Notre Dame. During her time in that organization, she signed her name to a statement saying she and others offered “our full support for our university's commitment to the right to life.”
The 2006 and 2013 documents, she said, are “statements of my personal beliefs.”
“Notre Dame is a Catholic university and embraces the teachings of the Catholic Church on abortion,” she said. “And so as a faculty member and member of the university Faculty for Life, I signed that statement.”
Referencing the 2013 statement, Blumenthal asked, “What does it mean for ‘the unborn to be protected in law’? Does that statement mean there is no valid constitutional protection for an abortion and therefore Roe v. Wade should be overturned?”
“I think that statement is an affirmation of life. It points out that we express our love and support for the mothers who bear them,” Barrett said. “Again, it was a statement validating the position of the Catholic university, at which I worked, in support for life and to support women in crisis pregnancies to support babies, so it's really no more than the expression of a pro-life view.”
Harris also quoted the 2006 and 2013 statements and told Barrett, “You believe Roe is susceptible to being overturned.”
Asked her views on legalized abortion by Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono (Hawaii), Barrett borrowed a phrase from Ginsburg in 1993 and said she would offer “no hints, forecasts, or previews” of her rulings.
Earlier in the day, Barrett said, “I do see as distinct my personal, moral, religious views and my task of applying the law as a judge.” She also said, “My personal views don’t have anything to do with how I would decide cases.”
Graham said Barrett’s nomination is a landmark moment for conservative women. He is chairman of the Judiciary Committee and backs her confirmation.
“You're going to shatter that barrier,” Graham said. “... This is the first time in American history that we've nominated a woman who's unashamedly pro-life. … It will be a great signal to all young women who want to share your view of the world that there's a seat at the table for them. This has been a long time coming. And we have arrived.”
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Pool
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.