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Connecticut high court nominee regrets signing 2017 letter supporting Amy Coney Barrett

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A nominee to Connecticut's highest court told state lawmakers Monday that she would not have signed a 2017 letter supporting Amy Coney Barrett for a federal appeals court position if she knew Barrett would later vote to overturn Roe v. Wade abortion protections as a member of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Sandra Slack Glover, a federal prosecutor nominated by Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont, made the comment during her confirmation hearing before the legislature's Judiciary Committee, as several members of the Democratic majority expressed concerns about her support of Barrett. The committee held off voting on Glover's nomination Monday evening, citing the late hour. No date for a vote was immediately set.

Glover had said she wasn't “going to demonize” Barrett, "but when I look at that letter now ... I’m no longer comfortable with some of those statements.

“But I also believed, clearly naively at this point, I thought there were guardrails,” she said, referring to judges' respect for legal precedents. “And I thought the lower court judges were constrained. I thought the Supreme Court was constrained. And I was wrong. And looking back and knowing what I now know, I shouldn’t have signed it.”

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Glover added she was a firm supporter of abortion rights, from the perspectives of both a woman and a lawyer.

A message seeking comment from Barrett was sent to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Glover was among 34 people who served as U.S. Supreme Court law clerks in 1998, along with Barrett, who signed the 2017 letter to leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee supporting Barrett's nomination to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago. In 1998, Barrett was a clerk for Justice Antonin Scalia and Glover was a clerk for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

The letter said the signees believed Barrett was “fully qualified” to be a federal appeals judge.

“Professor Barrett is a woman of remarkable intellect and character,” the letter said. "She is eminently qualified for the job. This view is unanimous — every law clerk from October Term 1998 has joined this letter.

“Based on our observations, we came to respect Professor Barrett’s conscientious work ethic, her respect for the law, and her remarkable legal abilities,” it said. "She conducted herself with professionalism, grace, and integrity."

Glover said the letter was not an endorsement of Barrett's political views.

Barrett was later nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Donald Trump and was among the conservative majority that overturned Roe v. Wade last year. During Senate hearings before her confirmation, Barrett had said she would obey stare decisis, the doctrine of courts giving weight to precedent when making decisions.

State Rep. Patricia Dillon, a New Haven Democrat, said the state Supreme Court was vital in acting as a “firewall” against the conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court.

“There’s some very dramatic things happening in Washington,” Dillon said at Monday's hearing. “If I could quote Justice (Elena) Kagan, actually, the stakes could not be higher at the state level because that may be the threat we have when it comes to some issues.”

All current justices on the seven-member state Supreme Court were nominated by Democratic governors.

Glover, 52, of Guilford, is chief of the appellate unit at the Connecticut U.S. attorney's office, where she has worked since 2004. She previously served as an appellate attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice and in private practice.

If Glover ultimately clears a Judiciary Committee vote, her nomination will go to the Senate and House of Representatives for approval. Both are Democrat-controlled.

If the committee votes down her nomination, the chambers still could take it up.

___

Associated Press writer Susan Haigh contributed to this report.