Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, for the second time in as many days, denied the scientific consensus on human-caused climate change during her confirmation hearing Wednesday.
In response to a line of questioning from California Senator Kamala Harris, Barrett agreed COVID-19 is infectious and that smoking causes cancer, but then said climate change is “a very contentious matter of public debate.” Barrett’s denial came just a day after she said, “I’m certainly not a scientist. … I’ve read things about climate change. I would not say I have firm views on it.” Barrett’s answer mirrors language often used by Republican politicians who seek to avoid outright climate denial. “For [Barrett] not to have firm views on climate change is almost unbelievable,” Ann Carlson, a faculty director of the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at UCLA School of Law, told the New York Times.
Barrett’s answer, Carlson said, “seems like a pretty strong signal to those in the know that she is skeptical of regulating greenhouse gases.” Others were starker in their assessments. “You either accept science or reject it. Amy Coney Barrett repeatedly refusing to accept climate science further proves that she is unfit to serve on the Supreme Court,” said Sierra Club Democracy Program Director Courtney Hight.
Bob Percival, director of the environmental law program at the University of Maryland, agreed. “Her response suggests that she either is a climate change denier or someone who is afraid of offending the President and his supporters in the fossil fuel industry,” he told E&E. If confirmed, Barrett could tip the balance of the Supreme Court on myriad climate and environmental issues.