Harris asks Barrett if COVID-19 is infectious and if smoking causes cancer to make climate change point

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., asked Judge Amy Coney Barrett if smoking causes cancer and if coronavirus is infectious, in an effort to reveal the Supreme Court nominee’s thoughts on global climate change. 

After an extended intro where Harris talked about John Lewis, racism and voter discrimination, the Democratic vice presidential nominee asked Barrett if she agreed with Chief Justice John Roberts when he said voter discrimination still exists. 

Barrett said there have been certain, specific instances of voter discrimination. 

“I will not comment on what any justice said in an opinion, whether an opinion is right or wrong, or endorse that proposition,” Barrett said, following her stance from the rest of the week where she’s refused to divulge opinions on any hot-button court cases. 

“Do you accept that COVID-19 is infectious?” Harris asked.

“Yes,” Barrett replied. “It’s an obvious fact, yes.”

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“Do you accept that smoking causes cancer?” Harris continued.

“I’m not sure where exactly you’re going with this but… Sen. Harris yes every package of cigarettes warns that smoking causes cancer,” the judge said

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

Barrett responded: “Senator, again, I was wondering where you were going with that, you have asked me a series of questions that are completely uncontroversial like whether COVID-19 is infectious, whether smoking causes cancer and then trying to analogize that to eliciting an opinion from me that is on a very contentious matter of public debate.”

“I will not do that. I will not express a view on a matter of public policy, especially one that is politically controversial because that’s inconsistent with the judicial rule as I have explained,” she continued.

“Thank you, Judge Barrett, you’ve made your point clear that you believe it is a debatable point,” Harris said. 

Later, Harris said she was disappointed with Barrett’s noncommittal answers. “There were a lot of unanswered questions frankly and that’s unfortunate,” she told reporters as she departed her Capitol Hill office. 

Earlier Wednesday, Barrett said she doesn’t have “firm views” on climate change. 

“I’ve read about climate change,” Barrett told Sen. John Kennedy, R-La. 

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“And you have some opinions on climate change that you’ve thought about?” Kennedy asked. 

“I’m certainly not a scientist,” Barrett replied. “I’ve read things about climate change. I would not say that I have firm views on it.”

Pressed on the matter by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Barrett said she didn’t think her views on climate change were relevant to the job. 

“I don’t think that 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. I’m not really in a position to offer any kind of informed opinion,” she said.

Blumenthal asked Barrett if she agreed with President Trump’s views on climate change.

“I don’t know that I have seen the president’s expression of his views on climate change,” she replied. 

After casting doubt on the matter, Trump seemed to come around to the idea that climate change is caused by humans.

When asked if he thinks climate change is a hoax in January, Trump said, “Nothing’s a hoax about that. It’s a very serious subject. I want clean air; I want clean water. I want the cleanest air with the cleanest water. The environment’s very important to me.”

In his first debate with Democratic nominee Joe Biden, Trump was asked whether  greenhouse gas emissions from humans contribute to the planet’s warming.

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“I think a lot of things do, but I think to an extent, yes,” he said.