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Barrett punts on climate, oil industry recusals in written responses

Barrett punts on climate, oil industry recusals in written responses
© Greg Nash

Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney BarrettAmy Coney BarrettAlito to far-right litigants: The buffet is open Hispanics shock Democrats in deep blue California COVID-19: Justice Alito overstepped judicial boundaries MORE declined to weigh in on climate change or say whether she’d recuse herself from cases involving the oil industry in written responses to questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee ahead of its Thursday vote on her confirmation. 

In response to several questions on climate, Barrett gave responses including “The Supreme Court has described ‘climate change’ as a ‘controversial subject’ and ‘sensitive political topic.’ ’’

“As a sitting judge, it would be inappropriate for me to weigh in further on the matter,” she added. 

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The response echoed statements that Barrett made during her confirmation hearing last week, when she said that she did not hold "firm views" on climate change. She added that her opinion on climate is not “relevant” and called the subject a "contentious matter of public debate."

The vast majority of scientists believe that climate change is happening and human-caused. 

Barrett also punted on questions about whether she’d recuse herself from oil companies other than Shell and why the American Petroleum Institute, which her father was involved with, was not on her recusal list. She said that four Shell entities were on her recusal list “in an abundance of caution” because her father worked for Shell Oil Company. 

She did not directly say why she didn’t similarly recuse herself from any other oil or energy companies or the American Petroleum Institute, saying that “the question of recusal is a threshold question of law that must be addressed in the context of the facts of each case.”

“As Justice [Ruth Bader] Ginsburg described the process that Supreme Court justices go through in deciding whether to recuse, it involves reading the statute, reviewing precedents, and consulting with colleagues. As a sitting judge and as a judicial nominee, it would not be appropriate for me to offer an opinion on abstract legal issues or hypotheticals. Such questions can only be answered through the judicial process,” she added.