In the most revealing exchange, Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) asked Judge Barrett whether she believed that COVID-19 virus is infectious and whether smoking causes cancer. Barrett replied that it’s obvious that the virus is infectious and that every cigarette packet carries a warning label.
Harris then asked, “And do you believe that climate change is happening and is threatening the air we breathe and the water we drink?” Barrett astutely responded, “I was wondering where you were going with that. You have asked me a series of questions like that are completely uncontroversial, like whether COVID-19 is infectious, whether smoking causes cancer, and then trying to analogize that to eliciting an opinion on me that is a very contentious matter of, opinion from me, that is on a very contentious matter of public debate. And 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 role, as I have explained.”
Earlier in her questioning, Harris asked if a case comes before the Supreme Court that required consideration of scientific evidence, “will you defer to scientists and those with expertise in the relevant issues before rendering a judgment?”
Barrett replied: "If a case comes before me involving environmental regulation, I will certainly apply all applicable law deferring when the law requires me to and as I’m sure you know, Senator Harris, the Administrative Procedure Act does require courts to defer to agency fact finding and to agency regulations when they’re supported by substantial evidence. And so, yes, I would apply that law and defer when the law requires me to defer.”
These seem appropriate and well-considered positions to me, but that's not how the left saw it. The New York Times ran a long article by John Schwartz and Hiroko Tabuchi with negative reactions. The Hill ran another one by Rebecca Beitsch and Rachel Frazin.