Coney Barrett’s Climate Controversy

Judge Coney Barrett Swearing-In        Photo: VWEAA, Wikimedia CC

President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, created a bit of controversy during her nomination hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week when she called climate change itself “controversial.”  When asked by Senator and Democratic VP Nominee Kamala Harris about whether climate change is happening and threatening our air and water, Barrett replied that she could not answer the question because it is politically controversial.  She also said, in response to a question from Republican Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana, said she is not a scientist and could not opine on whether the planet is warming.

Why This Matters:  On a series of climate change questions from various Senators, Judge Barrett’s unwillingness to discuss the topic seemed less than candid.  She argued, “I do not think my “views on global warming or climate change are relevant to the job I would do as a judge, nor do I feel like I have views that are informed enough, and I haven’t studied scientific data.”  What?  Yes, they do.

What Coney Barrett Said to Senator Harris

As reported by The Times, the exchange went like this:

“Do you believe that climate change is happening and threatening the air we breathe and the water that we drink?” Ms. Harris asked.

Judge Barrett responded, “You asked me uncontroversial questions, like Covid-19 being infectious or if smoking causes cancer” to solicit “an opinion from me on a very contentious matter of public debate,” climate change.

“I will not do that,” Judge Barrett concluded. “I will not express a view on a matter of public policy, especially one that is politically controversial.”

Greta’s Response

Greta Thunberg took issue with Coney Barrett’s response by tweeting “To be fair, I don’t have any ‘views on climate change’ either. Just like I don’t have any ‘views’ on gravity, the fact that the earth is round, photosynthesis nor evolution.”

Other Experts 

“She’s a smart and sophisticated person,” Richard L. Revesz, director of the institute for policy integrity at New York University Law School told The Times. “If she didn’t want to associate herself with the climate denial perspective, she could have used different words.”

The Times noted that climate change is not really especially controversial with Americans today:  “73 percent of Americans say that global warming is happening, and 62 percent of Americans accept that it is human caused.”

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