STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
We have a few days before we know the name of President Trump's choice for the Supreme Court. We do know some likely contenders, and one of them is Amy Coney Barrett of Indiana. She is a federal appeals court judge, which means the Senate confirmed her once before, just three years ago. Though she's not even nominated yet for the Supreme Court, the appointment is considered so vital to so many issues that Barrett is already a focus of intense debate.
Her home state senators include our next guest, Republican Senator Mike Braun, who's on the line. Senator, welcome back to the program.
MIKE BRAUN: Hey. Good to be back on.
INSKEEP: If she is nominated, will Barrett have your support?
BRAUN: She will. And, you know, whether she is or not, I'd say the odds tilt in her favor. I guess we find out on Saturday. And, yeah, for me, I'm interested in someone that's going to, you know, be a constitutionalist, a textualist, someone not prone to legislate from the bench, and she kind of checks all those boxes for me. So I'm hoping she is the nominee, and yes, I will vote for her.
INSKEEP: Let me ask about a couple of issues on which she has spoken out or had rulings over the years. She has a record of statements on abortion rights. I think I can summarize that Judge Barrett has said that the right to abortion from Roe v. Wade in 1973 is unlikely to be fully overturned, but that she thinks it can be further restricted. Is that a stance you can support in a Supreme Court nominee?
BRAUN: It would be. And that's a, you know, sensitive topic, but I am a strong pro-life supporter. So she really, you know, suits any of us that are of that, you know, leaning. So, yes, and I think that would be - and that issue has kind of swung a little bit back in the direction of the sanctity of life over time with millennials, which is something of interest. And I think that it'll always be one, though, when you talk about it, that's divisive and - but I like her for that.
INSKEEP: Well, it's interesting because we now have a possibility that President Trump may get a third Supreme Court justice. And President Trump said during his campaign that his hope is that justices will overturn Roe v. Wade, that they will throw it back to the states. I understand that opponents of abortion rights have felt that Roe v. Wade was legislating from the bench, as you said. Of course, if it goes back the other way, there's a lot of people who are going to feel that these justices themselves legislated from the bench. Are you prepared for that kind of change in society, that kind of backlash in society?
BRAUN: You know, I think Amy is correct that it won't eventuate in overturning Roe v. Wade, even though many pro-lifers would like to see that. But I do think it will enable some of the lower court rulings to stand and especially some of the state laws. Most of us that are pro-life proponents would like to see that litigated state by state, not in a national way. And I think that would be the most tangible result of someone like Amy being on the bench. I think she'd also be - not necessarily outspoken but not afraid to be clear with her point of view. And I think for some of us, Chief Justice Roberts has been a little disappointing in that category. So I think she puts a little more emphasis on an issue that is dear to many of us.
INSKEEP: I'm glad you mentioned Chief Justice John Roberts because, in 2017, Judge Barrett wrote a law review article criticizing Justice Roberts for his ruling upholding the Affordable Care Act. That's something that she could - depending on when she's confirmed, if she was nominated, if she was quickly confirmed, she could quickly be ruling on. Are you hopeful that she would help to overturn the ACA?
BRAUN: OK. When it comes to the ACA and its underpinning of covering preexisting conditions, no cap on coverage, I'm going to be not your standard Republican. And I blame the health care system on the system itself. It has no transparency, no competition, barriers to entry and does not have an engaged consumer. And so I've been the most vocal senator on trying to fix the system without going to the Bernie plan 'cause...
INSKEEP: But do you think that she is someone who would be inclined, based on your knowledge, to overturn that act?
BRAUN: I don't think that - that ship has sailed, in my mind. We'd be on the curb politically for a while if we don't embrace covering preexisting conditions.
INSKEEP: Senator, one other question about Judge Barrett's faith, which is already a matter of public discussion. I know that Senator Dianne Feinstein when she was confirmed the last time said, the dogma lives loudly within you, which was taken as offensive by many conservatives. She is Catholic. We should note that most people have some religious belief; everybody at least has a religious belief or not. It's not necessarily relevant in every case. But your fellow senator, Todd Young of Indiana, did reference her faith in saying why he supports her, saying that she's a woman of strong faith. It's clearly something that is relevant to supporters and opponents. What role, if any, do you think her faith would play in her legal judgments?
BRAUN: I don't think it should play any particular role, but anyone that is devout, regardless of their religion, is someone I think you'd respect. If your dogma overwhelms your objectivity, that would be something that would be a risk. But in the case of Amy, I think she's made it clear that that wouldn't be. I'd feel confident that she'd know how to separate the two.
INSKEEP: Republican Senator Mike Braun of Indiana, always a pleasure talking with you.
BRAUN: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.