Barrett says George Floyd video prompted 'difficult' discussions with her family

Stops short of calling racism in US 'systemic'
Amy Coney Barrett family
Posted at 1:07 PM, Oct 13, 2020

Judge Amy Coney Barrett described during her confirmation hearing Tuesday the "personal" and "difficult" conversations her family was forced to have following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis earlier this year.

Barrett is the mother of nine children. Two of those children are adopted and are Black.

"As you can imagine, given that I have two Black children, that was very, very, personal to me and my family," Barrett said.

Barrett said her husband and her sons were off on a camping trip when a video went viral that showed Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck for more than eight minutes prior to Floyd's death. She described watching the video with her adopted daughter, Vivian.

"For her to understand that there might be a risk to her brother, or a son she might have one day of that kind of brutality has been an ongoing conversation," Barrett said. "And a difficult one like it has been happening for Americans all over the country."

Barrett added that it was especially difficult for some of her younger children to grasp.

"My children, to this point in their lives, have had the benefit of growing up in a cocoon where they have not yet experienced hatred or violence," she said.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, then asked if she felt that if she believes overt or systemic racism existed in America.

"I think it is an entirely uncontroversial and obvious statement given, as we just talked about, the George Floyd video, that racism exists in our country," Barrett said.

However, she stopped short of calling racism in America "systemic," saying that in her role as a judge that she was unable to do so.

"As to the nature of putting my finger on the problem...or how to tackle the issue of making it better, those things are policy questions," Barrett said. "They're hotly contested policy questions that have been in the news and discussed all summer. As I did share my personal experience — and I'm happy to discuss the reaction our family had to the George Floyd video — giving broader statements or making broader diagnoses is beyond what I'm capable of doing as a judge."