That is, she thinks the words in the Constitution should be interpreted as they were intended to mean when they were written. She also said she will look to the plain text of the Constitution to help guide her when rendering a decision. Both philosophies are often attributed to conservative jurists.
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., seemed mildly annoyed when Branch declined to answer his question about a 1965 U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned a Connecticut law that criminalized the use of contraceptive devices. That landmark decision established a right to privacy.
The word “privacy” is not in the Constitution, Durbin told Branch. To rely only on the words of the document, he said, “is a mindless reflection of the reality of court decisions.”
But Branch repeatedly said she would follow the precedents set by the U.S. Supreme Court and the court to which she is nominated – the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which hears cases from Georgia, Alabama and Florida.
“I have always faithfully applied binding precedent and would continue to do so,” she said of her five years on the state appellate court.
“I think she did well in responding to the GOP senators and that is all that matters in the present Senate,” said Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor who closely tracks judicial nominations. “Her answers to difficult questions from Democrats resembled those of most Trump circuit nominees.”
The Judiciary Committee is expected to vote on Branch’s nomination in the coming weeks. If confirmed by the Senate, she would replace Judge Frank Hull, who was put on the 11th Circuit by President Bill Clinton in 1997.