During a leading line of questioning from Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) aimed at showing that Barrett has “thought about the world,” as he phrased it, she said she did not have a personal stance on climate change.
“Do you have some opinions on climate change that you’ve thought about?” Kennedy asked her.
“You know, I’m certainly not a scientist,” President Donald Trump’s nominee responded. After Kennedy encouraged her to elaborate, she said: “I mean, I’ve read things about climate change. I would not say that I have firm views on it.”
Barrett’s line that’s she’s “not a scientist” has been a common refrain among climate-denying Republican lawmakers for years. President Barack Obama called out the phrase in his 2015 State of the Union speech, saying you don’t need to be a scientist to grasp that “the best scientists in the world are all telling us that our activities are changing the climate.”
Barrett saying she doesn’t have firm views on climate change ― something that nearly every scientist says people should view as the greatest threat to humankind ― seems to indicate that, if she’s confirmed, environmental groups challenging the Trump administration’s policies will have one less friend on the Supreme Court.
Little has been known about how Barrett may rule on environmental issues. That’s in part because she’s spent most of her career teaching law, not practicing it. She was not asked about climate change during her 2017 nomination hearing for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit.
Barrett’s confirmation hearing will continue Wednesday.