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What Mitt Romney discussed with Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett

Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald Trumps nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, meets with Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, on Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020.
Erin Scott, Pool via Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — Sen. Mitt Romney said he had an “informative” discussion with U.S. Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett on Wednesday.

The Utah Republican said he and Barrett talked about legal philosophy, judicial temperament and, in some cases, points of law — though apparently they didn’t get into specific issues the high court might take up.

“Clearly those matters that may come before the court are off the table in terms of being able to discuss them. But it was a very excellent opportunity for me to understand the judicial philosophy of Judge Barrett and I look forward to hearing the discussion at the committee and then reaching a conclusion,” Romney told reporters after the meeting.

Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald Trumps nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, meets with Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, on Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020.
Tom Williams, Pool via Associated Press

The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold hearings on Barrett’s nomination starting Oct. 12. Utah GOP Sen. Mike Lee is a member of the committee. Romney is not.

Unlike Lee, Romney has not explicitly expressed his support for Barrett. He said last week he favors a conservative justice who holds to the law and the Constitution. Barrett, who would replace left-leaning Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, fits that mold.

“I enjoyed meeting Judge Barrett, and we had an informative, wide-ranging discussion about her impressive background and her judicial philosophy,” Romney said.

Speculation was rampant that Romney would join Republican Sens. Susan Collins, of Maine, and Lisa Murkowski, of Alaska, in opposing a vote to replace Ginsburg, who died Sept. 18, until after the presidential election.

Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald Trumps nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, meets with Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, on Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020.
Tom Williams, Pool via Associated Press

But the freshman senator announced last week that he would vote should a nominee reach the floor.

Romney declined to say whether he would vote on a President Donald Trump nominee during what would be a lame-duck period should the president not be reelected. He said his decision applies to the current situation.

The prospect of a conservative majority on the court overturning Roe v. Wade will likely become an issue during Barrett’s confirmation hearing as it was when Trump nominated her to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals three years ago.

Romney singled out the 1973 decision on abortion “to find a right not enumerated in the Constitution” as one he has struggled with under what he described as a liberal court. He and Lee support a future Supreme Court overturning the ruling and returning the decision to states.