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Hillary Clinton Fires Back at Amy Coney Barrett After She Explains Her 'Originalism' Judicial Philosophy

Jonathan Ernst-Pool/Getty Images // Cindy Ord/WireImage

The Senate Judiciary Committee hearings to determine Judge Amy Coney Barrett's place on the United States Supreme Court have seen a variety of questions regarding Barrett's interpretation of the law and the ways in which her personal beliefs could transform the policies of the nation.

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have emphasized Barrett's belief in an originalist interpretation of the U.S. Constitution—for better or for worse.

Originalism dictates that issues like rights for marginalized groups should be expanded through the legislative process, not through new interpretations of the Constitution from judicial benches.

Barrett expanded on what the originalist philosophy means for her during the hearings, saying:

"So in English, that means that I interpret the Constitution as a law, that I interpret its text as text and I understand it to have the meaning that it had at the time people ratified it. So that meaning doesn't change over time. And it's not up to me to update it or infuse my own policy views into it."

The philosophy has faced a wealth of criticisms, including the assertion that founding fathers deliberately left language open to interpretation—such as the term "cruel and unusual" punishments instead of a specific form of punishment—so that the Constitution could evolve with the times.

It wasn't long before Yale Law School graduate and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton offered her two cents on originalism.

Clinton pointed out that women weren't allowed to vote at the time of ratification, and that a woman on the bench would've been unconscionable to the founding fathers, implying that—under Barrett's own interpretation of the law—she would be excluded from consideration for the Supreme Court.

Some applauded the former Secretary of State's retort.






Others asserted that an originalist interpretation still treats amendments to the Constitution—such as the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote—as an equal part of the document.



With a Republican majority in the Senate and a Republican in the White House, Coney Barrett's confirmation is almost certain.