Senators get 20 minutes each to ask their questions today, and once again health care is dominating the discussions.
“Do you agree with originalists who say that the Medicare program is unconstitutional?” she asked, referring to a paper written by University of San Diego law professor Mike Rappaport.
“So, I think I can’t answer that question in the abstract because, as we’ve talked about, the no hints no forecasts no previews rule,” replied Barrett. “I also don’t know what the arguments would be. So I assume Professor Rappaport lays out a case, but it’s not a question that I’ve ever considered before. But if I did consider it, it would be in the context of an actual case or controversy.”
“Well, I thank you,” said a skeptical Feinstein. “It’s hard for me to believe that that’s a real question because I think the Medicare program is really sacrosanct in this country.”
Democrats are once again arguing to voters that their healthcare is at stake with this nomination, building on an exchange between Barrett and Sen. Kamala Harris Tuesday.
“Prior to your nomination, were you aware of President Trump’s statements committing to nominate judges who will strike down the Affordable Care Act? And I’d appreciate a yes or no answer, please,” said Harris.
Barrett struggled somewhat to answer, replying, “Well Senator Harris I want to be very, very careful. I’m under oath. As I’m sitting here, I don’t recall seeing those statements, but it’s – let’s see, I don’t recall seeing or hearing those statements but I don’t really know what context they were in, so I guess I can’t really definitively give you a yes or no answer. What I would like to say is, I don’t recall.”
She has repeatedly insisted that she made no commitments to the President about how she would vote on upcoming cases, but Harris argued that it was hard to believe that Barrett does not know why she was nominated or what Trump’s expectations are.
Republican Senators have suggested that Barrett and the high court could preserve the Affordable Care Act without the individual mandate, which requires that everyone has health coverage or pay a fine.
However, that contradicts the arguments being presented by a coalition of Republican Attorneys General and supported by the Trump administration that without the individual mandate, the entire law should be struck down.