Barrett nomination draws mixed reaction from Durbin and Curran, concern from Duckworth

  • Dick Durbin

    Dick Durbin

  • Tammy Duckworth

    Tammy Duckworth

  • Mark Curran

    Mark Curran

Updated 10/13/2020 8:16 PM

Illinois' two Democratic senators pushed back against the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett for Supreme Court justice this week citing separate issues involving Obamacare and in vitro fertilization.

Sen. Dick Durbin of Springfield has warned that as the nominee of President Donald Trump, Barrett could cast a deciding vote that dismantles the Affordable Care Act and deprives myriad Americans of health care and preexisting condition protections.


The president "has made it clear, he wants his Supreme Court and this nominee to join him in eliminating the Affordable Care Act," Durbin said Monday during a Judiciary Committee hearing. He cited a tweet by Trump saying his "judiciary appointments will do the right thing unlike Bush's appointee (Chief Justice) John Roberts" who upheld the law in 2012.

"Read the tweets," Durbin added at Tuesday's hearing. Earlier, he highlighted a Naperville family that includes three sons with cystic fibrosis and one with diabetes who depend on the ACA to protect their health insurance.

Barrett told lawmakers she had not been pressured or swayed to take certain positions on hot button issues by the White House.

"I have not made any commitment or deals or anything like that," Barrett said. "I'm not here on a mission to destroy the Affordable Care Act. I'm just here to apply the law and adhere to the rule of law."

Durbin's Republican opponent in the Senate race, Mark Curran of Libertyville, a former Lake County sheriff, said Democrats "are trying to say (Barrett) would overturn the Affordable Care Act, and I disagree with that."

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Curran, who has a son with severe stomach and knee health issues, noted Barrett has a child with Down syndrome who "will need a lifetime of commitment.

"No fair person wants a system where preexisting conditions aren't covered. For Senator Durbin to imply she would want that is outrageous."

Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates wrote a letter to Republican senators Oct. 2 concerning Barrett's 2006 support of a group that opposes abortion rights and in vitro fertilization. Duckworth, a veteran who lost both her legs in the Iraq War, used IVF to conceive her two daughters.

"I urge you to fully consider the message a vote in favor of a Supreme Court nominee who appears to believe that my daughters shouldn't even exist sends not only to me as a mother and as your colleague, but to parents-to-be around this country struggling with infertility and whose dreams may only be achieved through IVF or other technologies," Duckworth wrote.

Asked Tuesday about her views on IVF and abortion, Barrett answered that judges "can't answer questions in the abstract that have to be decided in the course of the judicial process. An off-the-cuff reaction to that would circumvent the judicial process."

In a Sept. 26 White House ceremony welcoming Barrett, Trump said she "will decide cases based on the text of the Constitution as written. Judge Barrett was confirmed to the circuit court three years ago by a bipartisan vote. Her qualifications are unsurpassed -- unsurpassed -- and her record is beyond reproach."

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