WASHINGTON – Bringing it to the real world, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., plowed new ground at Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing on Tuesday when he asked the mother of two Black children about the impact of George Floyd’s death.
Barrett, guarded in her answers until this point, gave a candid reply.
In May, Floyd, a Black man, died after a white Minneapolis police officer pinned him down with a knee to his neck for nearly nine minutes. His death sparked a new chapter of racial reckoning in the U.S.
Barrett told Durbin after Floyd died she discussed with daughter Vivian, who is Black, “that there would be a risk to her brother or the sons she might have one day, of, that kind of brutality.”
Democrats know they are powerless to block the confirmation of Barrett, who President Donald Trump tapped for the Chicago-based 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2017. Three years later, days after the death of liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Trump nominated Barrett, the ideological opposite of Ginsburg, to fill her seat.
What Durbin has been doing at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings – and in a private call last week – is to talk to Barrett about the impact Supreme Court decisions have on real people, bringing up race, guns used for crimes in Chicago traced to Indiana and Mississippi, and the crucial need for health care coverage.
Barrett, a former Notre Dame Law School professor, is known for her conservatism. She shared with her mentor, the late Justice Antonin Scalia, her belief in originalism and textualism.
That is, she explained on Tuesday, interpreting the Constitution with the meaning the writers had when it was ratified and analyzing a statute using only the text.
Barrett mainly works and lives in South Bend,