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Barrett declines to say if Trump can unilaterally delay election

Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett declined to say on Tuesday if she believes President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says GOP senators have called to congratulate him Biden: Trump attending inauguration is 'of consequence' to the country Biden says family will avoid business conflicts MORE could unilaterally delay the Nov. 3 election. 

Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinFeinstein pushes for California secretary of state to replace Harris in Senate The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Dem leaders back smaller COVID-19 relief bill as pandemic escalates Criminal justice groups offer support for Durbin amid fight for Judiciary spot MORE (D-Calif.) noted that earlier this year Trump appeared to float delaying the election. She asked Barrett if the Constitution or other federal law gave Trump the ability to unilaterally do that. 

"Well, senator, if that question ever came before me, I would need to hear arguments from the litigants and read the briefs and consult with my law clerks and talk to my colleagues and go through the opinion writing process," Barrett said. 

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"If I give off-the-cuff answers, then I would be basically a legal pundit. And I don't think we want judges to be legal pundits. I think we want judges to approach cases thoughtfully and with an open mind," she added. 

Feinstein appeared to be referencing a July 30 tweet, where Trump floated delaying the election over concerns about mail-in voting. 

"With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???" Trump tweeted at the time.  

There is no evidence to support the idea that either absentee or mail-in ballots increase voter fraud. It also does not appear that there will be universal mail-in voting this fall, though some states require mail-in ballots.

Though Barrett declined to weigh in on if Trump could delay the election, experts have said he can't lawfully do so. 

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In addition to Feinstein's question about the possibility of Trump delaying the election, Democrats also pressed Barrett to commit to recusing herself if she is confirmed to the Supreme Court if an election-related case comes up. Trump has said he wants his nominee confirmed in case the election outcome must be determined by the high court justices.

Barrett declined to say if she would recuse herself from election-related cases. 

"I commit to you to fully and faithfully applying the law of recusal, and part of that law is to consider any appearance questions," Barrett said in response to a question from Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyGovernment used Patriot Act to gather website visitor logs in 2019 Top GOP senator warns government funding deal unlikely this week Incoming Congress looks more like America MORE (D-Vt.). "But I can't offer a legal conclusion right now about an outcome of the decision I would reach.”