Judge Amy Coney Barrett took her turn in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee this week and faced rounds of questions from both Democrat and Republican members. Opening statements from Democrats centered around the Affordable Care Act (commonly known as ObamaCare) and those dependent on the insurance it provides. Republicans repeatedly spoke about Judge Barrett’s qualifications. After the morning session, and completely predictable speeches from both sides, I tuned out and did some cleaning and refurbishing of chairs that I found on Facebook Marketplace.

Judging from my text messages from friends and family after the session was over, I figure missing senators Hirono and Harris wasn’t going to enter my life’s big regret list.

Plus these chairs are starting to look pretty cool.

Tuesday’s question rounds hit the same predictable notes, with Republicans centering questions around Judge Barrett’s judicial philosophy (textualism and originalism, passionately so) with some detailed and specific questions regarding her decisions and writings. Senate Democrats repeatedly asked Judge Barrett for opinions and answers to specific cases and issues that could, or are scheduled to, come before the court.

An interesting side point that struck me during the questioning... Senator Durbin used a majority of his first round of time on a dissenting opinion Judge Barrett wrote for a case to restore Second Amendment rights to those convicted of non-violent felonies. Senator Durbin touched on how her dissent could correlate to restoring voting rights to those with felony convictions.

Senator Lee’s first round questions delved into the basis for her legal decision-making process.

Not everyone finds those kind of discussions riveting, but it’s why I tune in to the hearings.

My biggest takeaway from Day One of questions was something Senator John Cornyn touched on. Nominees at hearings usually have binders and cheat sheets to remind them of case facts. Judge Barrett had a blank notepad, which says much about her legal mind and the breadth of knowledge she readily accesses.

Beyond earning my respect, she’s making me an even bigger fan.

Staff columnist Toni Butero can be reached at tbutero@mattosnews.com or by calling (209) 862-2222.