The Amy Coney Barrett Hearings

Robert Brooks Contributor
The Amy Coney Barrett Hearings
Read Time: approx. 3:51

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Yesterday the Senate Judiciary Committee set an Oct. 22 vote on Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination. This past week Coney Barrett has faced “two long days of public testimony in which she stressed that she would be her own judge and sought to create distance between herself and past positions critical of abortion, the Affordable Care Act and other issues,” the Associated Press reports. Here’s what both sides said about the hearings this week:

On The Right: Michael Goodwin titled his piece for the New York Post: “Democrats can’t ‘Kavanaugh’ unflappable Justice-to-be Amy Coney Barrett.” In the op-ed Goodwin says Democrats “came, they questioned and they got nothing… Their basic problem is that Barrett came across as an appealing Superwoman. Flanked by her husband, six of their seven children, and her six siblings, she was flawless in answering questions she could and in politely sidestepping the traps. Speaking without a single note or any reference books, she exhibited a laser-like memory of things she wrote and said as a professor at Notre Dame law school and, for the last three years, as a judge on a federal Court of Appeals. Goodwin continues: “Repeated references to the Constitution, discussion of legal landmarks and constant reminders that the court and the entire judiciary were designed to be different from the executive and legislative branches amount to a teaching moment for anyone who cares to learn. That is especially valuable since high schools and colleges apparently no longer teach civics or a positive view of what made America unique in the history of mankind.” The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board added: “The [hearings] revealed the deep fault lines over the Supreme Court, and how Democrats view it as a mini-legislature to achieve policy goals, rather than a real judicial body.” The WSJ Ed Board says, “Democrats did a great disservice to the law and judiciary by treating these hearings like an emotive political ad. They are telling voters that the courts are nothing more than another arena for political disputes. Keep doing that and soon the Supreme Court will be as unpopular as Congress—which may be their real goal as they prepare the ground to pack the Court next year.”

On the Left: Aaron Rupar of Vox says: When “asked by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) if ‘the Constitution gives the president of the United States the authority to unilaterally delay an election under any circumstances,’ Barrett punted.” Rupar says, “Coney Barrett refused to give a clear response to that question [which] shouldn’t have been hard for her to answer.” Rupar says, “the president doesn’t have this power,” and “Barrett’s refusal to say so doesn’t speak well for her willingness to stand up to the president in the event that the Supreme Court ends up hearing a challenge to the results of an election that it looks like Trump is increasingly unlikely to win at the ballot box.” In an op-ed for the New York Times, Wajahat Ali adds: “Barrett has faced immense scrutiny of her religious beliefs, and we need to be vigilant against any religious bias or discrimination. But I marvel at the hypocrisy of Republicans who are expressing shock and outrage over this, after the way the right has treated Muslims.” Ali continues: “I can’t help wondering: How would Republicans behave if Judge Barrett were a Democrat whose strongly held religious beliefs came from Islam instead of Catholicism?” In conclusion, Al From of the Annapolis Spy writes: “Barrett Is the Last Hurrah for a Dying Republican Coalition.” From says, “if confirmed, [she] will be the third justice in three years nominated by a president who lost the popular vote, confirmed by Senators representing a minority of voters.” This means despite changing demographics, “the Supreme Court, the third branch of our government, will continue for a decade or more to reflect the views of voters in the country we used to be, not the diverse country we have become.”

Flag This: According to the SCOTUS Blog, the first Supreme Court nomination during an election year in the twentieth century “came on March 13, 1912, when President William Taft (a Republican) nominated Mahlon Pitney to succeed John Marshall Harlan, who died on October 14, 1911.” Almost three decades later, “On January 4, 1940, President Franklin Roosevelt (a Democrat) nominated Frank Murphy to replace Pierce Butler, who died on November 16, 1939; Murphy was confirmed by a heavily Democratic Senate on January 16, 1940, by a voice vote.” The point is since the early 20th century both parties have confirmed Supreme Court justices during an election year, and both parties knew this heading into the hearings this week. Before lawmakers started this sentiment was articulated by representatives on both sides of the aisle: Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said Monday that her party doesn’t have “some secret, clever, procedural way to stop” the Barrett confirmation. Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham also began the week by saying, “This is probably not about persuading each other unless something really dramatic happens. All Republicans will vote yes and all Democrats will vote no.” Which is a circular way to highlight the next steps mentioned above. Next Thursday the Senate Judiciary Committee will vote to recommend Barrett’s nomination and send it to the full Senate for a vote by month’s end. The AP adds, “In the minority, Democrats acknowledge there is little they can do to stop [Republicans] from locking a conservative majority on the court for years to come. The shift would cement a 6-3 conservative majority on the court and would be the most pronounced ideological change in 30 years.”