The top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee Sen. Dianne Feinstein set the focus for Democrats’ opposition to Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett on Monday, saying she must clarify her position on the Affordable Care Act.
During her opening remarks, the California Democrat said the high court will hear a case weighing the individual mandate of the ACA on Nov. 10, and noted President Trump and Republicans have tried to strike down the health care law several times.
She said the ability for people with preexisting conditions to obtain health care coverage hangs in the balance.
Prior to becoming a federal judge, Judge Barrett had criticized Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.’s opinion upholding the ACA in 2012 as a tax.
“The effort to dismantle the law continues,” Ms. Feinstein said. “I hope you will clarify that in this hearing.”
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Rhode Island Democrat, said Republicans have tried to strike down President Barack Obama’s signature health care law 70 times, but have failed.
He said Judge Barrett was their “judicial torpedo” aimed directly at what is left of the ACA.
But Sen. Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican, defended the nominee’s record, saying she had criticized part of the ACA that is no longer in existence.
He said it was “outrageous” for Democrats to suggest Judge Barrett would take health care coverage away from the American people, especially those with preexisting conditions.
“As a mother of seven, Judge Barrett clearly understands the importance of health care,” Mr. Grassley said.
The high court’s ACA case on Nov. 10 isn’t the only date Democrats were concerned about during the hearing. They raised concerns over the election on Nov. 3, saying Mr. Trump wants his nominee on the bench in case there are legal battles concerning mail-in ballots.
“They’ve got to rely on the court to do their work,” said Sen. Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, of his Republican colleagues.
After less than an hour of the committee’s opening statements, Mr. Trump expressed impatience with the time allotted for Democratic senators. He suggested a more fast-tracked confirmation hearing.
“The Republicans are giving the Democrats a great deal of time, which is not mandated, to make their self serving statements relative to our great new future Supreme Court Justice,” Mr. Trump tweeted. “Personally, I would pull back, approve, and go for STIMULUS for the people!!!”
• Dave Boyer contributed to this report.