GOP Senator Ridicules Notion Judge Barrett Is 'on a Mission From God' to End Obamacare

Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana, ridiculed the notion that Judge Amy Coney Barrett is "on a mission from God" to end the Affordable Care Act (ACA) during Monday's confirmation hearing.

Kennedy referenced several Hollywood movies during Monday's Senate hearings, which are in consideration of Barrett's nomination to become a Supreme Court justice. Fellow committee member and Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris immediately preceded Kennedy, accusing Barrett and President Donald Trump of wanting to end the ACA, or "Obamacare," protections of pre-existing conditions. Kennedy ridiculed Harris and other Democrats' remarks and said it's "deeply unfair" Barrett must be called a "religious bigot" and "racist" by his Senate colleagues.

Kennedy: It was a freak show! It looked like the cantina bar scene out of Star Wars

— Acyn Torabi (@Acyn) October 12, 2020

Kennedy questioned how justices have become "politicians in robes" in the eyes of some Democrats. And he cautioned Barrett that the hearings "can turn sour real fast" like the 2018 SCOTUS hearings for now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

"It is unfair for my colleagues to suggest, some overtly, some more indirectly, that if you're put on the United States Supreme Court you will be on a mission from God to deny health care coverage for pre-existing conditions for every American," Kennedy told the Senate Judiciary Committee members and Barrett.

"We all watched the hearings for Justice Kavanaugh. It was a freak show. It looked like the Cantina Bar scene out of Star Wars. And I know for someone not accustomed to it that it hurts to be called a racist. I think it's one of the worst things you can call an American. I know that it hurts to be called a white colonialist, and I know it must for someone of deep Christian faith to be called a religious bigot. And to have it implied that because you are a devout Christian that you're somehow unfit for public service."

"Before it's over they may call you Rosemary's baby for all I know," Kennedy told Barrett, referencing a character in the eponymous novel and corresponding 1968 Roman Polanski film about a woman giving birth to Satan's child.

Barrett made remarks vowing to interpret laws "as they are written," and Kennedy said the Senate hearings are solely to "advise and consent" to Trump's third Supreme Court appointment since taking office. The court is set to hear oral arguments on November 10—seven days after the election—over a case which could dismantle President Barack Obama's signature health care law.

Democrats, including Harris, have described the hearings as a rushed push by Senate Republicans and Trump in order to secure a justice with a conservative record and past critical views of Obamacare, abortion rights and the LGBTQ community. Harris relayed the story of a child named Micah who she said will lose pre-existing condition coverage and present their family with a life-or-death dilemma should Barrett seek to abolish Obamacare.

"Affordable Care Act cannot deny her coverage or limit her health care because it's too expensive for insurance companies," Harris told the committee members. "If Republicans succeed in striking down the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies will be able to deny coverage for children with serious conditions. Children like Micah and parents will be on their own."

Kennedy rejected the premise of Harris' remarks, saying he believes it's "preposterous" that one federal judge is being accused of trying to overturn massive social and economic policies. He denounced the idea Supreme Court justices can simply apply "theoretical opinions" to any court ruling.

"A judge must apply the law as written. Judges are not policymakers, and they must be resolute in setting aside any policy views they might hold," Kennedy tweeted just after the exchange Monday, adding "Fact check: True."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi earlier this month said that any justice Trump is trying to get on the Supreme Court is aimed solely at taking down the Affordable Care Act and its pre-existing condition protections during the November 10 Texas v California oral arguments.

Newsweek reached out to Senator Kennedy's office Monday afternoon for additional remarks.

This article has been updated to clarify the context of Senator Kennedy's remarks.

senator john kennedy barrett god
GOP Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana speaks during the confirmation hearing for Amy Coney Barrett before the Senate Judiciary Committee, to become an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court on Capitol Hill on October 12. Kennedy said the Senate hearings are solely to "advise and consent" to Trump's third Supreme Court appointment since taking office. ALEX EDELMAN / POOL / AFP/Getty Images