Queenslanders share NAB AFLW R1 Rising Star Nomination


By Sarah Black, AFLW media 

BRISBANE midfielder Belle Dawes and St Kilda defender Tarni White – on return from a torn ACL – are the round one nominees for the NAB AFLW Rising Star.

White tore her ACL in round four last year against Fremantle, her fourth match, but starred against the Western Bulldogs in their season-opener on Friday night.

The 20-year-old – originally from QAFLW side Coorparoo and taken with pick No.30 in the 2019 NAB AFLW Draft – recorded a career-high 20 disposals and seven marks against the Dogs.

White was a thorn in the Bulldogs’ side, continually blocking forward-50 entries with composure and kick-starting the Saints’ rebound out of defence.

Lion Dawes is now entering her second AFLW season, having originally been selected with pick No.15 in the 2019 NAB AFLW Draft from QAFLW team Maroochydore. She also played for Wilston Grange.

The 19-year-old ran riot against Richmond, finishing her eighth AFLW match with 21 disposals and seven clearances – just two fewer than the entire Tigers team.

She smashed her previous best disposal tally of 12, recorded against Gold Coast last year, and tripled her 2020 season average of 5.9 touches.

Dawes had a strong QAFLW season over winter, finishing equal-first in the competition’s best and fairest count alongside Lions teammates Jordan Zanchetta and Taylor Smith, and looks set to carry that form into the rest of the AFLW season.

Players are eligible for the NAB AFLW Rising Star if they are 21 years and under as of January 1, 2021 and have not been previously nominated.

Two players will be nominated per home and away round of the NAB AFLW season.



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Biden defends nomination of retired general to lead Defense Department


Responding to criticism from fellow Democrats over his decision to name a recently retired general to lead the Defense Department, President-elect Joe Biden is defending his choice of retired four-star Gen. Lloyd Austin as defense secretary in his upcoming administration.

“There’s no doubt in my mind – not any doubt whatsoever – whether this nominee will honor and respect and on a day-to-day basis breathe life into the preeminent principal of civilian leadership over military matters in our nation,” Biden said Wednesday as he introduced his nominee for Defense secretary.

BIDEN’S DEFENSE SECRETARY PICK COULD MAKE FOR STRANGE BEDFELLOWS IN CONFIRMATION FIGHT

And Austin, who if confirmed by the Senate would make history as the first Black Defense secretary, spotlighted his “deep appreciation and reverence for the prevailing wisdom of civilian control of our military.”

He added: “I intend to keep this at the forefront of my mind.”

President-elect Joe Biden speaks during an event to announce his choice of retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, right, to be secretary of defense, at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del., Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Biden’s pick comes four years after President Trump nominated retired Gen. Jim Mattis as his first defense secretary, a position that is traditionally filled by civilians. Like Mattis, Austin would require a waiver passed by both houses of Congress due to federal law that prohibits retired officers from serving as defense secretary for at least seven years after they step down from military service.

Mattis was the first retired military officer to serve as defense secretary since George C. Marshall seven decades ago.

The president-elect’s choice of Austin instantly met with opposition from some top Democrats in Congress. Among them, Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut raised red flags and said they would be opposed to granting a waiver.

KEY HOUSE DEMOCRAT PUSHES BACK ON BIDEN’S CHOICE OF RETIRED GENERAL TO LEAD DEFENSE DEPARTMENT

Rep. Elissa Slotkin, a former CIA intelligence analyst who served in the war in Iraq three times under then-Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, said that choosing retired four-star Gen. Lloyd Austin to lead the Defense Department, a position traditionally reserved for civilians, “just feels off.”

“I have deep respect for General Lloyd Austin. We worked together on Iraq when he commanded U.S. forces there, when he was vice chief of the Army, and when he was the CENTCOM commander,” the moderate Democrat from Michigan wrote in a statement. “But choosing another recently retired general to serve in a role that is designated for a civilian just feels off. The job of secretary of defense is purpose-built to ensure civilian oversight of the military.”

Aware of the criticism by some in his own party, Biden emphasized that “there’s no question that he is the right person for this job at the right moment leading the Department of Defense at this moment in our nation’s history” and that “this is not a post he sought, but I sought him.”

“There’s a good reason for this law that I fully understand and respect and I wouldn’t be asking for the exception if I did not believe that this moment in our history didn’t call for it. It does call for all. And if I didn’t have the faith I have in Lloyd Austin to ask for it. I believe in the importance of civilian control of the military,” the president-elect said.

Mattis, while widely respected for his military record, was criticized for surrounding himself with fellow officers at the expense of civilian leadership. Mattis resigned two years ago, in protest of Trump’s military policies.

But Biden said that Austin would “be bolstered by a strong and empowered civilian sector and senior officials working to shape DOD’s policies and ensure that our defense policies are accountable to the American people.”

And Austin said, “I look forward to surrounding myself with experienced, capable, civilian appointees and career civil servants who will enable healthy civil-military relations grounded in meaningful civilian oversight.”

President-elect Joe Biden looks as retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, Biden's choice to be secretary of defense, speaks at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del., Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

President-elect Joe Biden looks as retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, Biden’s choice to be secretary of defense, speaks at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del., Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Besides Mattis, Trump named a high number of retired generals to top civilian posts in his administration. Among them were retired Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly as homeland security secretary and later White House chief of staff, and retired Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster as national security adviser. And the president, while highlighting his efforts to rebuild the military during his tenure, has also been targeted by critics for politicizing the military.

Pointing to Trump, Biden said that the military-civilian dynamic “has been under great stress the past four years and I know that secretary-designate Austin is going to work tirelessly to get it back on track.

Biden and Austin have worked together in the past. Biden, as vice president in the Obama administration, worked with Austin when the general was commander of U.S. forces in Iraq and later as commander of U.S. Central Command from 2013 to 2016.

“I’ve seen him lead American fighting forces on the field of battle. I’ve also watched him faithfully carry out the orders of the civilian leadership of this nation,” Biden said. “I know this man. I know his respect for our Constitution. I know his respect for our system of government. So just as they did for Secy. Jim Mattis, I ask the Congress to grant a waiver for Secy.-designee Austin.”

Fox News’ Allie Raffa contributed to this report



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Joe Biden confirms historic nomination of Janet Yellen as US treasury secretary



President-elect Joe Biden on Monday formally picked ex-Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen to lead the treasury, one of a slate of economic officials who would break racial and gender barriers in the US government.

The announcement of Mr Biden’s economic team comes after running mate Kamala Harris made history as the first woman and first person of both African American and South Asian descent to win the vice presidency.

If they win Senate approval, Ms Yellen would be the first female treasury secretary, and be joined in the executive branch by the first African Americans to serve as her deputy and as head of the White House economic council, as well as the first South Asian in a key budget role.

“We face great challenges as a country right now. To recover, we must restore the American dream – a society where each person can rise to their potential and dream even bigger for their children,” Ms Yellen tweeted following the announcement.

“As Treasury Secretary, I will work every day towards rebuilding that dream for all.”

Job number one for the 74-year-old, who previously made history as the first female Federal Reserve chief from 2014 to 2018, will be helping the US economy recover from the sharp downturn in growth and mass layoffs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unless lawmakers are able to overcome their differences in the closing weeks of the year, she will likely be tasked with convincing Democrats and Republicans in Congress to pass another spending bill to aid the recovery amid a months-long deadlock on new aid.

“As we get to work to control the virus, this is the team that will deliver immediate economic relief for the American people during this economic crisis and help us build our economy back better than ever,” Mr Biden said in a statement announcing his appointments.

“This team looks like America and brings seriousness of purpose, the highest degree of competency, and unwavering belief in the promise of America. They will be ready on day one to get to work for all Americans,” he said.

The task ahead

Ms Yellen’s nomination was first reported last week, and Mr Biden and Vice president-elect Kamala Harris will formally unveil the nominees on Tuesday.

Many of those tapped to serve on Mr Biden’s economic team include former officials of Barack Obama administration, under whom Mr Biden served as vice president.

Nigerian-born Wally Adeyemo, a former deputy national security advisor and current president of the Obama Foundation non-profit, will serve as deputy Treasury secretary. He would be the first African American in that role.

Neera Tanden, president of liberal think tank Center for American Progress, was tapped as head the Office of Management and Budget. If confirmed, she would be its first South Asian leader.

Also named was Dean of the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs Cecilia Rouse as chair of the Council of Economic Advisors (CEA), the first African American in that post.

Jared Bernstein, who previously advised Mr Biden when he was vice president under Mr Obama, will join the CEA, as will Washington Center for Equitable Growth President Heather Boushey.

Ms Yellen would take over as Treasury secretary from Steven Mnuchin, who worked with Congress on passing the $2.2 trillion CARES Act in March that expanded unemployment payments and offered loans and grants to small businesses.

Those measures were seen as key in keeping the US from an even worse economic slowdown, but they expired over the summer and, despite talks with Mnuchin, Democrats controling the House and Republicans leading the Senate can’t agree on how much to spend, or what to spend it on.

A study from progressive think tank The Century Foundation released last week said 12 million Americans will be receiving aid from government programs that will expire at the end of the year, and the policy deadlock raises fears the country’s tentative economic recovery could be reversed.

While Democrats will retain control of the House when the new Congress is inaugurated in January, control of the Senate, which must approve Biden’s nominees, will be decided by two elections in Georgia set for that month.





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Bobi Wine: Ugandan music star arrested hours after announcing presidential nomination | World News


Police have again arrested the popular Ugandan singer Bobi Wine – just hours after he became an opposition presidential candidate.

Wine, who is bidding to unseat Uganda’s long-time leader, was dragged from his car by police.

NBS Television said the singer, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, was taken into a police van amid violent scuffles between officers and his supporters.

Authorities have frequently accused Wine of planning rallies that could disrupt public order, which he has denied.

Critics say President Yoweri Museveni, in power since 1986, increasingly depends on the armed forces to assert his authority.

Image:
Wine’s age and his music have earned him a large following in the relatively young country

And on Monday, as the incumbent was nominated again as an election candidate, he warned that anyone disturbing the peace would regret their actions.

He said: “There’s nobody who is going to disturb here. Whoever tries will regret. Because for us, we don’t play.

“The [ruling party] fought to bring peace in this country. Nobody has more guns than us. But we don’t scare people.”

The electoral commission has not fixed a date for the polls.

Wine, 38, has captured the imagination of many Ugandans with his persistent calls for Mr Museveni, 76, to retire. He is especially popular with those from poorer urban areas.

The musician wrote a song in the early days of the pandemic encouraging people to wash their hands, and has built up a following among Uganda’s younger voters – about 75% of the population is below the age of 30.

“We now enter the most critical phase of our liberation struggle!” he tweeted after having his candidacy certified.

Wine and other opposition leaders have been frequently arrested in recent years – sometimes in their own homes, by police claiming they are preventing crimes from being committed.

The east African nation has never witnessed a peaceful transfer of power since its independence from British colonial rule in 1962.



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Senate to convene rare Saturday session to debate Amy Coney Barrett nomination


The Senate will gavel in a rare Saturday session this afternoon to debate confirming Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court — just days before voters decide whether Republicans will maintain control of the Senate and the White House.

Democrats, fiercely opposed to Barrett’s confirmation so close to the election, boycotted the Judiciary Committee vote Thursday and Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., staged four delay tactics Friday on the Senate floor, including forcing a brief closed session

Republicans, who hold power and have a majority of the votes, are bracing for more Democratic protests throughout the weekend but remain optimistic they have the 51 votes necessary to confirm Barrett during a final vote Monday.

MCCONNELL TEES UP FLOOR VOTE ON AMY CONEY BARRETT NOMINATION AFTER SCHUMER ATTEMPTS DELAY TACTIC

“Mainly, the reason we’re here is so the Democrats can continue to protest,” Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto on Saturday. “We had a series of procedural votes yesterday. They’re trying to do what they can to delay or block her nomination.”

Thune predicted that Barrett will clear a procedural vote Sunday afternoon and the final vote Monday evening just with GOP support. 

“We are setting up for a vote tomorrow at one o’clock. It’s what we call a cloture vote. It’s a procedural vote. As long as we have every Republican here and available, we’ll win that and that will set up a final vote on Judge Barrett’s nomination for Monday evening,” Thune said. 

Republicans hold a 53-seat majority in Senate. Two Republican senators — Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine — have opposed moving on Barrett’s nomination before the election — leaving Republicans with 51 solid “yes” votes. The margin is so tight that’s little room for absences or last minutes defections.

AMY CONEY BARRETT CONFIRMATION: WHAT TO EXPECT IN THE SENATE OVER THE NEXT FOUR DAYS

In recognition of the slim majority, Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., put out a statement Saturday morning to offer reassurances she will available to confirm Barrett. Two of her staffers had tested positive for coronavirus, but Loeffler announced she tested negative.

“Senator Loeffler is more energized than ever to vote to confirm Amy Coney Barrett as the next Supreme Court Justice on Monday before returning home and traveling the state to meet with hardworking Georgians,” the statement said. 

Democrats have dismissed the Barrett nomination as a “sham” process that’s never been done so close to an election. Schumer made clear Democrats would continue to put up a fight with whatever delay tactics are at his disposal.

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Republicans are “running the most partisan, the most hypocritical and least legitimate process in the history of Supreme Court nominations,” Schumer said Friday. “… We’re not going to have business as usual.”



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Amy Coney Barrett’s US Supreme Court nomination vote set for October 22 by Senate Judiciary Committee


The Senate Judiciary Committee will cast their votes for or against US Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett on October 22.

The date was set as they hold a Thursday session without Judge Barrett, who has faced two straight days of questioning, during which she stressed that she would be her own judge.

She sought to create distance between herself and past positions critical of abortion, the Affordable Care Act and other issues.

Her confirmation to take the seat of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg seems inevitable, as even some Senate Democrats acknowledged.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham pushed past Democratic objections to set the panel’s vote date on recommending her confirmation, even before final witnesses testify before and against her nomination.

Democrat Senator Amy Klobuchar described the process as “a sham”.

In the minority, Democrats acknowledge there is little they can do to stop them from locking a conservative majority on the court for years to come.

The shift would cement a 6-3 conservative majority on the court and would be the most pronounced ideological change in 30 years, from the liberal icon to the conservative appeals court judge.

Facing almost 20 hours of questions from senators, the 48-year-old judge was careful not to take on the President who nominated her and sought to separate herself from her writings on controversial subjects when she was an academic.

Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.

Amy Coney Barrett questioned on third day of supreme court hearing

She skipped past Democrats’ pressing questions about ensuring the date of next month’s election or preventing voter intimidation, both set in federal law, and the peaceful transfer of presidential power.

She also refused to express her view on whether the President can pardon himself.

“It’s not one that I can offer a view,” she said in response to a question from Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy.

Democrats raised those questions because President Donald Trump has done so himself.

When it came to major issues that are likely to come before the court, including abortion and health care, Judge Barrett repeatedly promised to keep an open mind and said neither Mr Trump nor anyone else in the White House had tried to influence her views.

“No-one has elicited from me any commitment in a case,” she said.

Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris
Democratic vice-presidential candidate, Kamala Harris, questions Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.(AP: Patrick Semansky)

She said she is not on a “mission to destroy the Affordable Care Act”, though she has been critical of the two Supreme Court decisions that preserved key parts of what has become known as Obamacare.

She could be on the court when it hears the latest Republican-led challenge on November 10.

Judge Barrett is the most open opponent of abortion nominated to the Supreme Court in decades and Democrats fear that her ascension could be a tipping point that threatens abortion rights.

Republican senators embraced her stance, proudly stating that she was, in Graham’s words, an “unashamedly pro-life” conservative who was making history as a role model for other women.

Judge Barrett refused to say whether the 1973 landmark Roe versus Wade ruling on abortion rights was correctly decided, though she signed an open letter seven years ago that called the decision “infamous”.

Democrats pressed repeatedly on the judge’s approach to health care, abortion, racial equity and voting rights, but conceded they were unlikely to stop her quick confirmation.

AP



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Amy Coney Barrett first full day of questions on her SCOTUS nomination and praises Justice Scalia 


Judge Amy Coney Barrett refused to reveal on her second day of confirmation hearings Tuesday whether she would vote to overturn Roe. v. Wade or a landmark gay marriage decision – or remove herself from cases on Obamacare or a potential presidential election dispute. 

Like other nominees before her, Barrett held back on the most controversial cases coming before the ideologically divided court – including an Affordable Care Act case coming up just days after the elections. 

Barrett instead relied on well-established language about precedent and the laws of recusal, leaving Senate Democrats grasping for information about how she might operate on the court as they questioned her on culture war issues and Obamacare, which is key to their election campaign.

At the same time, Barrett opened up about her decision to undergo the ‘excruciating process’ of accepting President Trump’s nomination to the Supreme Court – telling senators she strives never to ‘impose’ her own choices on others.

She addressed her Catholic faith saying that she did not bring it to her rulings as a federal appeals judge and would not do so if she is confirmed to the high court, and said she had known that her faith and that of her family would be ‘caricatured’ as a result of being nominated.

‘I have decided to pursue a career and have a large family. I have a multi-racial family. Our faith is important to us.’ hey are my choices. I have never tried in my personal life to impose my choices,’ she said. She also said her family owns a gun.

Barrett resisted attempts by Democrats who pressed her repeatedly on whether she believes Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided – which would be an obvious clue on whether she would vote to strike it down, a key aim of some conservatives but also a rallying cry for liberals.

Questions on contentious issues: Amy Coney Barrett was asked about her positions on Roe v. Wade, same-sex marriage, the Affordable Care Act and whether she would recuse herself from ruling on cases relating to the upcoming election but declibe to spell out any position on them

Family arrival: Six of Amy Coney Barrett's children arrived just ahead of her for the hearing

Family arrival: Six of Amy Coney Barrett’s children arrived just ahead of her for the hearing

'I want to be careful to say that if I'm confirmed, you would not be getting Justice Scalia. You would be getting Justice Barrett,' she distinguished

‘I want to be careful to say that if I’m confirmed, you would not be getting Justice Scalia. You would be getting Justice Barrett,’ she distinguished

‘WE WEPT OVER GEORGE FLOYD VIDEO’ 

Coney Barrett said the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May had a ‘very personal’ effect on her family and she and her children wept over his death.

Barrett was asked by Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin whether she had seen the footage of a police officer pressing a knee to the black man’s neck until he stopped breathing. 

Barrett said she had.

‘Given that I have two black children, that was very, very personal for my family,’ she said.

‘My 17-year-old daughter Vivian, who’s adopted from Haiti, all of this was erupting, it was very difficult for her. We wept together.’

Personal: Coney Barrett highlighted how her children, including adopted son John Peter, wept over the George Floyd video

Personal: Coney Barrett highlighted how her children, including adopted son John Peter, wept over the George Floyd video

She said Vivian was upset about the potential to happen to ‘her brother or the son she might have,’ and that she had also to explain to her youngest daughter the presence of racism in American society.

‘My children, to this point in their life, have had the benefit of growing up in a cocoon where they have not yet experienced hatred or violence,’ she said.

Barrett made a distinction between her feelings as a person and her role as a judge, refusing to give her thoughts on systemic racism as Durbin had requested. 

She said commenting on what policies should be used to combat racism would be ‘kind of beyond what I´m capable of doing as a judge.’ 

‘If I express a view on a precedent one way or another, it signals to litigants that I might tilt one way or another on a pending case,’ she explained as she dodged the question on Roe v. Wade by ranking Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

The senior lawmaker then asked Barrett if she agreed with the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s view that the case was wrongly decided. 

Scalie expressed the view in dissents and in speeches, and Barrett said she sees herself as inspired by his philosophy – but repeatedly declined to answer questions about whether she agreed.

Whether Roe v. Wade is settled law is a key liberal-conservative dispute, with liberals seeing the right to choose as just as settled as the court’s prohibition of segregation in Brown v. Board of Education, while conservatives do not, and say that they would like to see it overturned. 

That would eliminate federal abortion rights and return abortion to being potentially outlawed by some states. 

For decades confirmation hearings have seen judges asked about Roe v. Wade by both sides, with most nominees giving similar answers to Coney Barrett – although Ruth Bader Ginsburg told senators clearly that she believed in abortion rights at her confirmation hearing.

Coney Barret did not offer any view. 

‘Senator I completely understand why you are asking the question,’ she told Feinstein as she was asked if Roe v. Wade was ‘wrongly decided.’

‘I can’t pre-commit or say: yes I’m going in with some agenda because I am not,’ she said.

‘I don’t have any agenda. I have an agenda to stick to the rule of law and decide cases as they come.’ 

Nor would she say ‘as a person’ whether it should be overturned. Barrett said she understands ‘why it would be comforting to you to have an answer,’ but again refused to do so. 

But she said the she would not bring her personal views to court and behave like a ‘royal queen.’  

‘Judges can’t just wake up one day and say ‘I have an agenda. I like guns, I hate guns, I like abortion, I hate abortion,’ and walk in like a royal queen and impose their will on the world,’ Barrett said. 

Feinstein told her: ‘So on something that is really a major cause with major effects on over half of the population of this country – who are women, after all – it’s distressing not to get a straight answer.’ 

DEMOCRATS PRESS ON OBAMACARE 

She refused to get pinned down on whether she would recuse herself from the Affordable Care Act case – even though President Trump has said repeatedly he wants to take down the law.

Democrats have made the alleged threat she represents to Obamacare the center of their strategy for the hearings, seeing her confirmation as inevitable but putting healthcare on the ballot as beneficial to them in November.

Asked if she would step aside from the case she said: ‘That’s not a question that I could answer in the abstract.’

She repeatedly tried to reassure Sen. Richard Durbin that she is not ‘hostile’ to the Affordable Care Act – although she acknowledged that in legal writings she has attacked the reasoning of a Supreme Court decision that upheld most of the law in 2012.

‘And I assure you that I am not. I am not hostile to the ACA I am not hostile to any statute that you pass,’ she said.

Texas Republican John Cornyn described the Democrats’ question as ‘ACB v. ACA.’ 

Oral arguments regarding the ACA will begin in November – after the election but two months before inauguration. 

‘Judges can’t just wake up one day and say ‘I have an agenda. I like guns, I hate guns, I like abortion, I hate abortion,’ and walk in like a royal queen and impose their will on the world. 

They center on a Republican-led attempt to strike down the whole law on the grounds that the individual mandate is unconstitutional, which the Trump administration supports but which Democrats oppose.

Barrett was questioned about her past writings, including a 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 which she may have to rule on if confirmed. The court is set to hear a challenge to the law Nov. 10.

Barrett told the senators, ‘I apply the law. I follow the law. You make the policy.’

Still, Barrett appeared stumped when grilled by Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Virginia about particulars of the law, also called Obamacare. Barrett could not recite specifics, including that 23 million people are covered by the law or that more than 2 million people are on their parent´s health insurance. 

DEMOCRATS PRESS ON ELECTION RULINGS 

Nor would she commit to recusal should the Supreme Court take up a disputed case resulting from the presidential election. Trump handed Democrats the issue when he stated as a reason to fill the court vacancy in part to settle any election disputes on the election, after repeatedly attacking mail-in ballots.

‘I have had no conversations with the president or any of his staff on how I might rule on that case,’ she told Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.).

‘I can’t offer an opinion on recusal without short-circuiting that entire process,’ she said. 

The Republican president has said he expects the Supreme Court to decide the election’s outcome as he faces Democratic challenger Joe Biden. 

Barrett said no one at the White House sought a commitment from her on how she would rule on that or any issue.

‘It would be a gross violation of judicial independence for me to make any such commitment or for me to be asked about that case,’ Barrett told the committee of possible election cases. 

Leahy connected Trump’s statements about getting a full court to rule on his election with the decision to ‘ram through’ Barrett’s nomination just weeks before Election Day. 

All she would allow is that ‘I commit to you to fully and faithfully applying the law of recusal,’ and that she could ‘consider any appearance questions’ – meaning the appearance of a conflict of interest even if none actually existed.

Barrett made the most personal disclosure of her confirmation process on the second day of Senate hearings, after appearing masked and inscrutable for much of Monday as senators either defended her or cast her as a threat to abortion and health care rights.

Her remark seemed designed to assure a skeptical block of outvoted senators and the public that she would not use her powerful lifetime position to foist her religious views or conservative social beliefs on the nation.  

On Tuesday, she spoke at length after Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham tossed her a softball question, asking the appeals court judge: ‘How does it feel to be nominated for the Supreme Court of the United States?’ 

High-profile hearing: The confirmation is being held in the Senate's largest hearing room to ensure social distancing

High-profile hearing: The confirmation is being held in the Senate’s largest hearing room to ensure social distancing

WILL CONEY BARRETT OVERTURN GAY MARRIAGE RULING? 

Coney Barrett didn’t provide much more information on the landmark Obergefell v. Hodges case, which established a right to same sex marriage when she was asked about it.

It was the subject of a fiery dissent earlier this month by conservative justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, who said it should be overturned – suggesting that it could in fact be something the high court comes to rule on again.

Barrett was asked because Scalia – her mentor – firmly expressed the view that Obergefell was not constiutional.

But Barrett said that a challenge to the ruling would be about ‘substantive due process’ that was not explicitly spelled out in the Constitution, after explaining her philosophy as a textualist.

She said the Supreme Court has ‘grounded’ rights in the Constitution which ‘are not expressed,’ and that this included same-sex marriage.

But she explained there also was a ‘reliance interest’ in that there are ‘people in the United States who have ordered their affairs around it.’ 

Barrett explained that any effort by a state to try to take away the rights established by the ruling must go through a multi-phase process.  

If [a state] outlawed same-sex marriage, there would have to be a case challenging it. And for the Supreme Court to take it up, you’d have to have lower courts going along and say, ‘We’re going to flout Obergefell,’ she said.

‘And the most likely result would be that lower courts, who are bound by Obergefell, would shut such a lawsuit down and it wouldn’t make its way up to the Supreme Court. But if it did, it would be the same process I’ve described,’ she said. 

She also said ‘I do not discriminate on sexual preference,’ a use of language which was different from the more normal term sexual orientation. 

‘I KNEW OUR FAMILY WOULD BE PICKED OVER’ 

Barrett responded with a lengthy answer where she defended her own decisions inlife, vowed not to impose her lifestyle on others – and said it was her belief in the ‘rule of law’ that drove her to accept the nomination – in a remark that hinted at the steep national divides that serve as the backdrop of her confirmation fight.

 I have decided to pursue a career and have a large family. I have a multi-racial family. Our faith is important to us. All of those things are true, but they are my choices.

‘Well, senator, I’ve tried to be on a media blackout for the sake of my mental health, but, you know, you can’t keep yourself walled off from everything, Barrett began.

‘And I’m aware of a lot of the caricatures that are floating around, so I think what I would like to say in response to that question is that, look, I have made distinct choices. 

‘I have decided to pursue a career and have a large family. I have a multi-racial family. Our faith is important to us.’

‘All of those things are true, but they are my choices and in my personal interactions with people. I mean, I have a life brimming with people who have made different choices and I have never tried in my personal life to impose my choices on them and the same is true professionally,’ said the judge and former law professor. 

Her defense of her life choices comes after media outlets have scoured her background in the two weeks since Trump named her for the lifetime appointment. With Obamacare, abortion rights, and a potential Biden agenda on the line, some outlets have mined her biography for clues on whether she would follow the mold of her influence Justice Anthony Scalia and Justice Clarence Thomas.

Barrett brought her seven children, including two who were adopted from Haiti, to the White House for the event celebrating her nomination, effectively putting them on the public stage.

The practicing Catholic had her dean at Notre Dame law school testify on her behalf. Media outlets have also scrutinized her membership of People of Praise, a charismatic religious group. Other details only emerged through the questionnaire process – like her signing on to a newspaper ad blasting Roe. V. Wade that she did not initially disclose.

But as in earlier questioning with Graham – and like many justices before her – Barrett described herself as someone who was bound by precedent and the principle of stare decisis – not as a judge who is driving to strike down Obamacare on her first weeks on the job, or to rip away precedents like Roe v. Wade, even if her allies consider it to have been wrongly decided.

 

Barrett introduced her husband, children and siblings by pointing to each after Feinstein requested to share who they are with the room

Barrett introduced her husband, children and siblings by pointing to each after Feinstein requested to share who they are with the room

Each of the 22 senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee has 30 minutes to interact and ask questions of Barrett on Tuesday. Pictured are Chairman Lindsey Graham (left) and Democratic Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (right) speaking with masks on ahead of the second day of the hearing

Each of the 22 senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee has 30 minutes to interact and ask questions of Barrett on Tuesday. Pictured are Chairman Lindsey Graham (left) and Democratic Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (right) speaking with masks on ahead of the second day of the hearing

‘I mean, I apply the law and, senator, I think I should say why I’m sitting in this seat in response to that question, too. Why I have agreed to be here because i don’t think it’s any secret to any of you or to the American people that this is a really difficult, some might say excruciating process and [husband] Jesse and I had a very brief amount of time to make a decision with momentous consequences for our family. 

‘We knew that our lives would be combed over for any negative detail, with he knew that our faith would be caricatured. We knew our family would be attacked. We had to decide whether those difficulties would be worth it because what sane person would go through that if there wasn’t a benefit on the other side?

‘The benefit i think is that I’m committed to the rule of law and the role of the Supreme Court in dispensing equal justice for all and I’m not the only person who could do this job– but I was asked and it would be difficult for anyone, so why should I say someone else should do the difficulty if the difficulty is the only reason to say no, I should serve my country and my family is all in on that because they share my belief and the rule of law.’

Barrett spoke about her discussions with family about her high-profile nomination even as she began her second day of hearings seeking to shroud any indications about how she might rule on critical faces facing the nation.

She also revealed another detail of her background during Graham’s questioning about key court principles when he asked if she owned a gun.

‘Ah, we do own a gun,’ Barrett responded. Graham then moved on to other subjects. 

‘YOU WON’T GET JUSTICE SCALIA, YOU’LL GET JUSTICE BARRETT’

Barrett embraced her classification as a ‘female Scalia’ on Tuesday as questioning of the Supreme Court nominee commenced on Day 2 of her confirmation hearing – but made sure to distinguish herself from the last Justice.

‘Justice [Antonin] Scalia was obviously a mentor,’ Barrett began of the Supreme Court Justice she clerked for, adding her previous claim that ‘his philosophy is mine too.’

‘He was a very eloquent defender of originalism, and that was also true of textualism’ she said.

‘But I want to be careful to say that if I’m confirmed, you would not be getting Justice Scalia. You would be getting Justice Barrett,’ she distinguished. ‘And that’s so because originalists don’t always agree and neither do textualists.’

Barrett arrived with her family in tow for the second day of her confirmation hearing Tuesday morning as she prepares to field questions from all 22 members of the Senate Judiciary Committee – each receiving 30 minutes.

Like Monday, pro-abortion and anti-Trump protesters and healthcare activists immediately gathered outside on Capitol Hill to express their opposition to Barrett’s nomination. 

Barrett would not say if she believed the court could overturn Roe v. Wade in the future

Barrett would not say if she believed the court could overturn Roe v. Wade in the future

Like the first day of the hearing Monday, demonstrators immediately gathered outside on Capitol Hill to protest Barrett's nomination

Like the first day of the hearing Monday, demonstrators immediately gathered outside on Capitol Hill to protest Barrett’s nomination

The demonstrators were met by pro-life and pro-Trump protesters holding signs with images of Barrett reading ‘Hope’.

Chairman Lindsey Graham started the day off asking Barrett to explain her ‘originalist’ views in plain English.

‘I interpret the Constitution as a law,’ she detailed. ‘I understand it to have the meaning that it had at the time people ratified it. That meaning doesn’t change over time and it’s not up to me to update it or infuse my own policy view into it.’

Graham, a Republican Senator from South Carolina, kicked off the day by telling Barrett she could relax and remove her white face cover and then launched a monologue claiming he wanted to distinguish between politics and judgeships.

He railed against the Affordable Care Act, which Democrats spent the majority of their time during Monday’s opening remarks claiming was at risk if Barrett were confirmed.

Six of Barrett’s seven children and her husband sat in a row over her right shoulder and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone sat behind her to the left.

Barrett’s youngest child, who has Down Syndrome, remained at home for the hearings – but she assured he was watching her on TV. 

The row behind her children and husband were seated all six of Barrett’s siblings.  

On Monday, all members of the committee, along with Barrett, made their opening statements. 

Democrats argued against Barrett’s nomination, claiming it’s a political move made just weeks before the 2020 election by President Donald Trump to strike down the Affordable Care Act at the Supreme Court level.

They also claim her religion could get in the way of her being a ‘fair’ Justice, and say her devout Catholic beliefs would lead to the dismantling of abortion rights with a 6-3 conservative Supreme Court likely to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Republicans, on the other hand, said Democrats are playing politics and making a judgeship into a campaign issue. The GOP is also accusing the opposition party of creating a religious test for Barrett, which they lament is against the Constitution.



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Lincoln Project fiercely condemns possible SCOTUS nomination by Trump


The Lincoln Project joined the country in offering condolences for the loss of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, on Twitter Friday.

“The Lincoln Project joins all of America in mourning the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg,” the group wrote.

But on Saturday, in a scathing statement, the anti-Trump political action committee, rejected President Trump’s plans to announce a Supreme Court nominee  just weeks before the 2020 presidential election.

TRUMP SAYS SUPREME COURT PICK WILL ‘MOST LIKELY’ BE A WOMAN, ANNOUNCEMENT COULD COME ‘NEXT WEEK’

“Under no circumstances should a nomination go forward in the United States Senate,” said the group on Twitter.

The Lincoln Project, led in part by George Conway, husband to Kellyanne Conway who is a presidential advisor, was developed in 2019 with the sole purpose of defeating “Trump and Trumpism,” according to its website.

The site notes policy-based differences with the Democratic Party, but also argues that “Electing Democrats who support the Constitution over Republicans who do not is a worthy effort.”

Ginsburg’s death is expected to initiate a fiery partisan debate in Washington as GOP senators and the White House plan to confirm a Supreme Court justice as quickly as possible.

“In a presidency marked by corruption, malfeasance, incompetence and a profound disrespect for the American system of government and our Constitution, any nominee put forward by Donald Trump…would forever bear the stain of a majoritarian, hyper-partisan choice made by a president and Republican Senate majority desperate to cling to power,” the Lincoln Project said in a statement.

LINDSEY GRAHAM SIDES WITH TRUMP ON FILLING SUPREME COURT VACANCY: ‘I FULLY UNDERSTAND’ 

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has called on the GOP to take the same measure as in 2016, when it refused to review former President Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, citing concerns over electing a justice during an election year.

“The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president,” Schumer tweeted, echoing the phrasing used by McConnell in February 2016, following the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who once said that he would not support Trump if he pushed to have a justice appointed to the high court during an election year, changed his mind Saturday.

Graham retweeted a message by the president that said Republicans have an “obligation” to fill the seat “without delay.”

“I fully understand where President Trump is coming from,” Graham wrote.

Graham backed McConnell in 2016 and told Democrats that they could “use my words against me” should he ever try to have a Supreme Court justice instated during an election year.

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The senator held this belief up to two years ago. During a 2018 event he said, “If an opening comes in the last year of President Trump’s term, and the primary process has started, we’ll wait till the next election.”

“This November, these senators and those who promote Donald Trump’s un-American, authoritarian actions will be held responsible,” the Lincoln Project said. “Now is the time for all of us that believe in Democracy to stand together and stand up to their continuing infidelity to our country and our institutions.”

The Lincoln Project could not be immediately reached by Fox News.

Marisa Schultz contributed to this report.





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Trump gets a second nomination for Nobel Peace Prize after Serbia-Kosovo deal


President Trump has received a second nomination for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize after he helped secure a deal for normalized economic relations between Serbia and Kosovo — days after he was nominated for his role in a deal between the United Arab Emirates and Israel.

Trump was nominated by Magnus Jacobsson, a member of the Swedish Parliament, who announced Friday that he was nominating the Trump administration along with Serbia and Kosovo “for their joint work for peace and economic development, through the cooperation agreement signed in the White House.”

TRUMP OVERSEES ECONOMIC DEAL THAT INCLUDES KOSOVO RECOGNIZING ISRAEL, SERBIA MOVING EMBASSY TO JERUSALEM

“Trade and communications are important building blocks for peace,” he said.

The deal, signed at the White House last week, normalizes economic relations between the two former adversaries — and also includes Kosovo recognizing Israel, and Serbia agreeing to move its embassy to Jerusalem.

The nomination letter to the Nobel Committee is a preliminary step, and anyone within certain categories — including lawmakers, university professors and prior recipients — can nominate candidates. There were 318 candidates for the 2020 prize.

The prize recipient is determined by a five-person Nobel Committee, which is appointed by the Norwegian Parliament. The winner of the Peace Prize for 2021 will not be announced until October of next year.

Fox News first reported this week that Trump’s name was submitted for the 2021 prize by Norwegian lawmaker Christian Tybring-Gjedde, who cited Trump’s role in brokering a peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

“For his merit, I think he has done more trying to create peace between nations than most other Peace Prize nominees,” Tybring-Gjedde, a four-term member of Parliament who also serves as chairman of the Norwegian delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, told Fox News in an exclusive interview.

THE ATLANTIC CALLS TO ‘END THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE’ FOLLOWING TRUMP NOMINATIONS

Tybring-Gjedde, in his nomination letter to the Nobel Committee, said the Trump administration has played a key role in the establishment of relations between Israel and the UAE. “As it is expected other Middle Eastern countries will follow in the footsteps of the UAE, this agreement could be a game-changer that will turn the Middle East into a region of cooperation and prosperity,” he wrote.

He also praised him for reducing troop numbers in the Middle East.

This is not Trump’s first such nomination, as Tybring-Gjedde submitted one along with another Norwegian official in 2018 following the U.S. president’s Singapore summit with Kim Jong Un. Japan’s prime minister reportedly did the same. Trump did not win.

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The case for a Trump prize was bolstered this week by the announcement of a U.S. brokered deal between Bahrain and Israel to normalize relations. The signing of both the UAE-Israel and Bahrain-Israel deals will take place in a ceremony on Tuesday.

Fox News’ Jon Decker contributed to this report.



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