Can Trump Pardon Himself? Barrett Says She Can't Answer

It's the Supreme Court nominee's final day of questioning before the committee
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 14, 2020 8:39 AM CDT
Updated Oct 14, 2020 5:50 PM CDT

(Newser) – Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett's third and final appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee got underway Wednesday. It follows a Tuesday session that stretched almost 12 hours, and the New York Times reports that with "many of the more technical questions" out of the way, the third day of confirmation hearings will be made up of "shorter ... rounds in which [senators] may look to more forcefully make their case for or against Judge Barrett's confirmation." CNN reports that each of the committee's 22 senators will have 20 minutes to question Barrett. Outside witnesses will appear before the committee Thursday, and a vote will follow; that puts things on track for a Senate floor vote before October is through. Among the day's exchanges:

  • Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein tackled the topic of Medicare, asking if Barrett "agreed with originalists who have said the popular health-care program for older Americans was unconstitutional," as the Guardian put it. Barrett said she wasn't versed in the arguments for that position and "can't answer the question in the abstract." The Guardian described Feinstein as seeming "taken aback." She said to the nominee, "It's hard for me to believe that's a real question. The Medicare program is really sacrosanct in this country."
  • CNN reports Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy cited President Trump's claim that he has the "absolute right" to pardon himself in asking Barrett if a president does indeed have that right. Her reply: "Sen. Leahy, so far as I know, that question has never been litigated. That question has never arisen. That question may or may not arise, but it's one that calls for legal analysis of what the scope of the pardon power is, so because it would be opining on an open question when I haven't gone through the judicial process to decide it, it's not one on which I can offer a view."

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