Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., asked Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett if she would recuse herself from any potential dispute before the court concerning November’s election, and while Barrett said she could not commit to doing so at this time, she vowed to take the matter “very seriously” should such a situation arise.
Coons pointed to how President Trump, who nominated Barrett to the high court, has claimed that the election is a “scam” and that the court needs nine justices to handle it. With that in mind, he asked if Barrett would remove herself from such cases, even if only to eliminate the appearance of bias.
“You’re right that the statute does require a justice or judge to recuse when there is an appearance of bias,” Barrett said. “And what I will commit to every member of this committee, to the rest of the Senate, and to the American people, is that I will consider all factors that are relevant to that question – relevant to that question that requires recusal when there is an appearance of bias.”
Barrett referenced how earlier in the hearing she discussed the Supreme Court’s recusal process, and how Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has said that such decisions are made by a justice after consulting with the other eight justices.
“And so I promise you that if I were confirmed and if an election dispute arises – you know both of which are ifs – that I would very seriously undertake that process and that I would consider every relevant factor,” Barrett said. “I can’t commit to you right now for the reasons that we talked about before, but I do assure you of my integrity and I do assure you that I would take that question very seriously.”
Earlier in the hearing, Barrett addressed whether she would recuse herself from the upcoming case that could determine the future of the Affordable Care Act, amid accusations from Democrats that Trump chose her due to her past criticism of the decision that upheld the law in 2012. It was at that point that she brought up the statute that governs recusal and the process of consulting other justices, and said that she could not commit to an answer now “without short-circuiting that entire process.”