Amy Coney Barrett faces Senate questioning: US election live news

  • The second day of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett has begun, with Senators given the opportunity to question her.
  • Joe Biden campaigns in Florida, a state seen as key to a Trump victory, on Tuesday.
  • After returning to the campaign trail on Monday, Trump heads to Pennsylvania.
  • Early voting began in Kentucky and Texas, with 21 days left until the November 3 election.

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the United States elections. This is Joseph Stepansky.

Tuesday, October 13:

13:00 ET – Biden heads to Florida to court senior vote

Biden heads for Florida on Tuesday to court elderly Americans who helped elect Trump four years ago but appear to be swinging to the Democratic candidate for the White House this time around amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Biden, at 77 the oldest Democratic nominee ever, is to “deliver his vision for older Americans” at an event in the city of Pembroke Pines, north of Miami, his campaign said.

The former vice president’s visit to Florida comes a day after Trump held a campaign rally in the Sunshine State, his first since his hospitalization for Covid-19.

Unlike Biden’s small, socially distanced gatherings, thousands of supporters packed an airport tarmac for the president’s return to the campaign trail.

12:30 ET – Barrett says she’s ‘not hostile’ to the Affordable Care Act

Barrett has said she does not necessarily oppose the Affordable Care Act, the health care law that’s being challenged in a case heading to the court next month, telling legislators on Tuesday she’s “not hostile to the ACA”.

Barrett is being questioned about her past writings, including a 2017 piece in which she was critical of Chief Justice John Roberts’ previous rulings on the Obama-era law.

The appellate court judge distanced herself from those writings, saying they were not addressing specific aspects of the law as she would if confirmed. The court is set to hear a challenge to the law November 10.

Barrett told the senators, “I apply the law. I follow the law. You make the policy”.

12:00 ET – Mark Zuckerberg, Priscilla Chan donate $100 million more to election infrastructure

Facebook Inc Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, said on Tuesday that they will donate an additional $100 million to support election officials and fund infrastructure for the election in November.

“We’ve gotten a far greater response than we expected from election officials needing funding for voting infrastructure, so today we’re committing an additional $100 million to the Center for Tech and Civic Life to make sure that every jurisdiction that needs funding to help people vote safely can get it,” Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post.

“So far, more than 2,100 local election jurisdictions have submitted applications to CTCL for support,” he said, referencing a Chicago-based nonprofit that, according to its website, is “working to foster a more informed and engaged democracy, and helping to modernise US elections.”

11:30 ET – Barrett said she can’t give her opinion on recusing herself from election-related litigation

Supreme Court nominee Barrett has said she can’t give an opinion on whether she’d recuse herself from any election-related litigation involving Trump.

Barrett said she has not been asked by Trump or anyone else how she’d rule in possible upcoming cases, including the election.

She said it would be a gross violation of judicial independence to make a commitment on how she’d rule. She added it’s a violation of the judicial independence to put a justice on the court as a means of obtaining a particular result.

But Trump has said he would look for justices who were anti-abortion. He’s said he wanted the full nine justices to decide election-related matters.

10:45 ET – Biden addresses idea of high court packing: ‘I’m not a fan’

Biden has said he is “not a fan” of adding seats to the Supreme Court, after weeks of avoiding questions about the idea that’s been pushed by progressives and used by Republicans to attack him.

“I’ve already spoken on — I’m not a fan of court packing, but I don’t want to get off on that whole issue. I want to keep focused,” the Democratic presidential nominee said in an interview Monday with Cincinnati’s WKRC.

10:00 ET – Barrett sidesteps on Roe v. Wade question

Barrett sidesteps when asked if she agrees that Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court abortion ruling, was wrongly decided.

“I’m going to invoke Justice Kagan’s description which I think is perfectly put when she was in her confirmation hearing she said that she was not going to grade precedent or give it a thumbs up or thumbs down,” she said, responding to the question from Senator Dianne Feinstein. “It would be…actually be wrong and a violation of the cannons for me to do that as a sitting judge.”

“Senator I completely understand why you’re asking the question. But again, I can’t pre-commit or say yes I’m going in with some agenda because I’m not,” Barrett said when pushed. “I don’t have any agenda…I have an agenda to stick to the rule of law, decide cases as they come.”

09:45 ET – Barrett says she would not be Scalia clone

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, the committee’s chairman, opened the questioning by asking her about her conservative legal philosophy known as originalism, in which laws and the Constitution are interpreted based on the meaning they had at the time they were enacted.

“That meaning doesn’t change over time and it’s not for me to update it or infuse my own policy views into it,” Barrett said.

Graham asked Barrett, a devout Catholic and a favorite of religious conservatives, whether she could set aside her religious beliefs in making decisions as a justice: “I can,” she responded.

Barrett called the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, for whom she served as a clerk two decades ago, as her mentor, but said she would not always rule the same way as him.

“You would not be getting Justice Scalia, you would be getting Justice Barrett. That is so because originalists don’t always agree,” she said.

When asked if Barrett would recuse herself from rulings related to the Affordable Care Act, as Democrats have called for, Barrett declined to say, but said she would follow recusal rules.

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