Iowa Senators accused Democrats of using scare tactics and distraction strategies throughout Supreme Court confirmation hearings

Iowa Sens. Grassley and Ernst voiced their support for judge Amy Coney Barrett during three-days of contentious Supreme Court confirmation hearings.



Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) speaks during Supreme Court Justice nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett's Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing for Supreme Court Justice on Capitol Hill on October 12, 2020 in Washington, DC. With less than a month until the presidential election, President Donald Trump tapped Amy Coney Barrett to be his third Supreme Court nominee in just four years. If confirmed, Barrett would replace the late Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. (Patrick Semansky/Pool/Getty Images/TNS)

Lauren White and Brian Grace

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said Senate Democrats employed scare tactics throughout the confirmation hearings for U.S. Supreme Court Justice nominee Amy Coney Barrett, including the notion that Barrett would be a threat to American health-care coverage.

Iowa’s U.S. Sens. Grassley and Joni Ernst, both Republicans and members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, signaled support of Barrett’s nomination during their questioning periods, though Grassley was the only one of the two to return on the third day.

Grassley’s questions for Barrett were a mix of some general and some specific points, including what her views are on recording future Supreme Court trials or how she would or wouldn’t cite international law when interpreting the Constitution. 

He asked her on Tuesday if it was on her agenda as a potential Supreme Court justice to repeal the Affordable Care Act, to which she replied “absolutely not,” and stated she hadn’t made any commitments to anyone regarding the ACA.

U.S. Sen. Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, focused on the ACA while questioning Barrett on Tuesday, asking her if senators should take the President for his word when he said his nominee would do the right thing as a Supreme Court justice and overturn the legislation.

Barrett responded saying she couldn’t speak to what Trump had said, but that she’s committed to judicial independence from political pressure.

 Grassley said Wednesday that Democrats don’t really care about keeping the piece of legislation and are ignoring bills introduced by Republicans that reduce drug prices, referencing a COVID relief plan.

“Democrats want to distract from the fact that President Trump and the administration have taken steps to help lower health-care costs for Americans, including finalizing a rule to allow the importation of prescription drugs from Canada and proposing a rule to facilitate the affordable purchase of insulin and epi pens for lower income Americans,” Grassley said.

Ernst, who is serving on the Senate Judiciary Committee for her first SCOTUS confirmation hearing, only used 15 of her 30 minutes on Tuesday to question Barett, saying that while they are both pro-life, Barret will judge on the Supreme Court with impartiality regarding the subject.

One of the letters that Ernst entered into the court record was an editorial in The Gazette from University of Iowa law professor, Derek Muller who had Barrett as a professor at Notre Dame, where he says he supports Barret. 

“While her excellent scholarly record has earned broad academic recognition and praise, her recent judicial opinions further demonstrate the sharp intellect she brings to the bench,” Muller said in his editorial on Oct. 6. 

Ernst ended her time by commending Barrett’s temperament during the hours of questioning brought on by the hearing. 

“I hope that this hearing will be an open, fair conversation about how Judge Barrett would be as Justice Barrett. I am concerned however that not everyone in this hearing shares that goal,” Ernst said. 

Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and in Congress, are strongly opposed to holding a Supreme Court confirmation hearing less than three weeks out from Election Day. Some Republicans acknowledged throughout the hearing that a hearing has never been held this close to an election, but that circumstances are different from 2016 because Republicans occupy both the Senate and the White House.

In 2016, Senate Republicans blocked Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee to fill former justice Antonin Scalia’s seat, saying it should wait until after the election in order to let the American people decide.

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, a member of the committee and the Democratic candidate for vice president, questioned Barret on voter suppression. She asked Barrett if she agrees with Justice Roberts’ statement that voting discrimination still exists today. Barrett did not take a stance on whether or not she agrees with the statement, but did state that racial discrimination does still exist in the country. 

Harris ultimately criticized the hearings as “illegitimate to the eyes of the people in this country.” 

“Americans are right now suffering from a deadly pandemic and we are also suffering a historic economic crisis,” Harris said. “The senate should be working day and night to provide economic relief to families and not rushing a supreme court confirmation. We are also in the middle of an election, more than 12 million Americans have already voted. The american people want whoever wins this election to fill this seat.”