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Amy Coney Barrett Faces Gendered Questions From Senate Judiciary Committee

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett spent almost 20 hours answering questions from Senate Judiciary Committee members this week.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

She was asked about her judicial philosophy. She was asked about what she thought about same-sex marriage, the Second Amendment and Roe v. Wade.

SHAPIRO: In almost every instance, Barrett responded to the questions the way other nominees, male and female, have responded over the last three decades. That is to say she dodged.

(SOUNDBITE OF MONTAGE)

AMY CONEY BARRETT: I will not express a view on a matter of public policy.

But I'm not going to express a view on whether I agree or disagree.

I just can't give answers to those very specific questions.

CHANG: Barrett is only the fifth woman and the only mother of school-aged children to be nominated to the court.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DIANNE FEINSTEIN: I was wondering if you might introduce us to them.

CONEY BARRETT: Sure. So I have my husband, Jesse, my son J.P., my daughter Emma, my daughter Juliet...

CHANG: Her family inspired a lot of questions over those many hours, many of which had never been asked of her male counterparts.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

FEINSTEIN: You don't have a magic formula for how you do it and handle all the children and your job and your work and your thought process, which is obviously excellent, do you?

SHAPIRO: Barrett did answer that question.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CONEY BARRETT: It's improv.

FEINSTEIN: Yes. Yes.

CHANG: Republican Sen. Ted Cruz asked about how Barrett has dealt with the effects of the pandemic on her children's education.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TED CRUZ: For you and your husband, you've got seven kids. How did y'all manage through the lockdowns and distance learning? What was that like in the Barrett household?

SHAPIRO: Louisiana Republican Sen. John Kennedy wanted to get down to brass tacks of how the Barrett house functions efficiently even though she has such a high-powered job.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JOHN KENNEDY: It's a sincere question. I'm genuinely curious. Who does laundry in your house?

CONEY BARRETT: (Laughter).

CHANG: Barrett laughed politely. Even if some members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are mystified by how she does it all, it is clear the nominee was ready to field questions that many of the men who have sat in that same chair have never had to answer. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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