WASHINGTON — Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett spoke about how the death of George Floyd in May at the hands of police was “very, very personal” to her, as the mother of two black children, during her confirmation hearing on Tuesday.
The appeals court judge said she believed racism was an ongoing problem in the United States but argued it was a policy matter for Congress, not the judicial system, to fix.
During day two of the hearing, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) asked President Trump’s nominee for the high court if she had watched the video of Floyd’s death that sparked a historic conversation about civil rights and police reform and how it had impacted her.
“Senator, as you might imagine, given that I have two black children, that was very, very personal for my family,” said Barrett, 48, a mom of seven who adopted two children, Vivian and John Peter, from Haiti.
The conservative judge spoke about how she had to have a difficult conversation with Vivian, 17, and the rest of her children about police brutality.
“It was very difficult for her, and we wept together in my room. It was also difficult for my daughter Juliet, who’s 10. I had to try to explain some of this to them,” Barrett told Durbin.
“I mean, my children, to this point in their lives, have had the benefit of growing up in a cocoon where they have not yet experienced hatred or violence and for Vivian, to understand that there would be a risk to her brother or the son she might have one day of that kind of brutality, has been an ongoing conversation,” she continued.
“It’s a difficult one for us like it is for Americans all over the country,” she said.
When pressed on the issue of race in the United States, the judge said: “I think it is an entirely uncontroversial and obvious statement, given as we just talked about the George Floyd video, that racism persists in our country.”
But the Supreme Court nominee who would replace the late liberal icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the court said it was not her place as a judge to tackle the problem.
“As to putting my finger on the nature of the problem, whether, as you say, it’s just outright or systemic racism or how to tackle the issue of making it better, those things are policy questions,” she said.
“They’re hotly contested policy questions that have been in the news and discussed all summer,” she said, adding, “Giving broader statements or making broader diagnoses about the problem of racism is kind of beyond what I’m capable of doing as a judge.”
House Democrats passed their own police reform bill in June but Democrats in the Senate swiftly killed police reform when they refused to debate or even bring a vote on the GOP bill, shepherded by Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, the only black Republican senator.
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