The Senate Judiciary Committee opened the confirmation hearings of Judge Amy Coney Barrett on Monday. This is the initial step in the process of considering the nomination of Barrett to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court.
Senate Democrats are taking a very different approach to Barrett’s nomination than they did during the hearings for Justice Brett Kavanaugh reported Fox News. Then, Democratic members of the Judiciary Committee directly and personally attacked Kavanaugh’s character. That strategy backfired as Democrats were viewed by many as partisan and unfair and Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court.
This time the Democrats chose to focus on the process itself, claiming that it is somehow corrupt by its close proximity to the November presidential election and claiming that Barrett’s ascension to the nation’s highest court would end Obamacare and deprive millions of Americans of their health care.
Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA), the Democratic nominee for vice president, said, “This administration, with the support of Senate Republicans, will be in front of the Supreme Court on November 10th to argue that the entire Affordable Care Act should be struck down.”
The Hill quoted Senator Dick Durban (D-IL) as saying that Obamacare is “hanging in the balance.”
As is typical with such overblown rhetoric, the truth is that the upcoming case concerning Obamacare is highly nuanced and not likely to strike down the entire act regardless of how the high court rules.
Harris complained about the Senate holding hearings in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Senate Republicans have made it crystal clear that rushing a Supreme Court nomination is more important than helping and supporting the American people who are suffering from a deadly pandemic and economic crisis,” she said. “Their priorities are not the American people’s priorities. But, for the moment, Senate Republicans hold the majority in the Senate and determine the schedule, so here we are.”
Harris’ complaints about the confirmation hearings distracting the Congress from more important work are interesting in light of the timing of the House’s Impeachment proceedings against President Trump earlier this year. At the very moment when the dangers of the pandemic originating in China were becoming clear, both houses of Congress were dealing with a purely partisan impeachment that had no chance of succeeding.
Harris also made a rather novel argument about Barrett’s potential rulings on the Supreme Court.
The California senator said about Justice Ginsburg that “her legacy and the rights she fought so hard to protect are in jeopardy. By replacing Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg with someone who will undo her legacy, President Trump is attempting to roll back Americans’ rights for decades to come.”
Considering that Supreme Court Justices are appointed by Presidents from both parties, the idea that a new justice appointed by a member of the opposing party would rule differently from the departing justice seems rather obvious, if not desirable from the public’s point of view as they voted to put the Presidency and the Senate into the control of the opposing party.
In another change from past Supreme Court nominations, nary a word was said about the new nominee overturning Roe v. Wade. For decades Democrats have contended that every single justice nominated by a Republican president would strike down the abortion ruling. It has never proved to be either true or a winning argument, as the American public is deeply divided on the abortion issue.
Like everything else during this most unusual year, Barrett’s confirmation hearings are already proving to be unique.