The Senate Judiciary Committee’s 10 Democrats demanded an explanation Tuesday for why President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee didn’t disclose a newspaper ad to them that carried her signature and called for an end to the “barbaric legacy” of Roe v. Wade.
The Democrats, led by Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., made the demand of Judge Amy Coney Barrett in a letter to the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Policy, which handles the pre-confirmation hearing vetting process of Supreme Court picks.
“The failure to disclose the 2006 letter leads to additional questions about other potentially missing materials,” the Democrats wrote. “Please immediately provide an explanation for the omission of this open letter and please provide any other responsive materials that have not been disclosed by Judge Barrett.”
The two-page letter that contained Barrett’s signature, issued by an extreme anti-abortion group in Indiana and published as an ad in the South Bend Tribune in 2006, called for the landmark 1973 Supreme Court ruling to be overturned so that “laws that protect the lives of unborn children” can be restored.
Barrett, then a law school professor at Notre Dame University, signed the ad with her husband and dozens of other Indiana residents espousing anti-abortion views. The existence of the ad was first reported by The Guardian last week.
The Judiciary Committee Democrats, among whom was vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris, D-Calif., noted that candidates are required to disclose any letters, editorials, newspaper articles or other “communications relating, in whole or in part, to matters of public policy or legal interpretation.”
A White House official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Barrett didn’t disclose the 2006 letter because it “does not fall within the scope” of the committee’s guidelines.
“Judge Barrett did not write or edit the advertisement that is referenced,” the official told the New York Daily News.
However, apparently presuming that defense, the Democratic lawmakers noted that Justice Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s first appointment to the Supreme Court, disclosed a similar open letter on a different topic as part of his 2017 confirmation process.
The Democrats’ Tuesday letter signals that they will grill Barrett extensively on her distaste for Roe v. Wade during what promises to be a contentious confirmation process.
Despite blocking President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court pick in 2016 on the grounds that the election was too close, Senate Republicans are rushing to rubber-stamp Barrett’s nomination with less than five weeks to go until this year’s Nov. 3 contest between Trump and Joe Biden.
Adding another wrinkle to the process, at least two Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee have tested positive for COVID-19. Nonetheless, Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., says he plans to start Barrett’s confirmation hearings on Monday in hopes of holding a final floor vote by Election Day.
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