Amy Coney Barrett Won’t Engage In ‘Hypotheticals’ About Trump Being Trump

SCOTUS

Amy Coney Barrett's sham confirmation hearing in the GOP-controlled Senate is possibly the easiest job interview in recent history. It's how conservatives think Black people are hired through affirmative action. Ted Cruz rambled on for a while about how amazing she was. You could find creepy porn in his Twitter feed more easily than an actual question of probative value in anything he said to her.

She's getting the job. We get it. Lindsey Graham even thanked Democrats for being “respectful" (i.e., “chumps") during this brazen daylight heist of our civil rights.

One embarrassing moment Wednesday was when Ben Sasse tried to ask a softball question and it still tripped her up. Hasn't he seen those blank pages? She didn't prepare for anything rigorous. He should've stuck with “Judge Barrett, your confirmation seems to have the momentum of a runaway freight train. Why are you so popular?"


SASSE: What are the five freedoms of the First Amendment?

BARRETT: Speech. Religion. Press. Assembly.

Then she counted on her fingers while repeating the first four. This is the Supreme Court. We're well past finger-counting law.

Maybe she should've requested a password-reminder clue.

SASSE: Redress.

Even better! Sasse gave her the entire answer. Four out of five ain't bad. It's a solid B minus.

I came away from this resenting Sasse the most, which is true of any exchange involving Ben Sasse. He's treating Barrett like a first-year law student. Josh Hawley at least treated her like an empty suit that had graduated law school. He took offense to anyone asking Barrett about Griswold v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court case regarding birth control. Somehow that was an attack on her religion, which is rumored to be Catholicism.

She'd earlier deflected answering Chris Coons's question about Griswold — something other equally Catholic nominees had done in the past without issue — because the case decided in 1965 is an "active controversy." But she also said it's “shockingly unlikely" that anyone would try to pass a law prohibiting birth control. She should try counting on her fingers again so she can remember the Hobby Lobby case.

Barrett has said repeatedly that Justice Antonin Scalia shaped her views, which means they are terrifying. Hawley claimed it was “demeaning and insulting" to compare her to Scalia because she's an “independent" person, which he demonstrated by saying how “independent" she is and how she can come to her own conclusions before giving her a chance to nod her head and obligingly agree. If Barrett had any more fingers handy, she'd remember that this is called “leading the witness."

Look, I'm no legal scholar, but shouldn't these hearings at least be as difficult as the Amazon hiring process? It's a lifetime gig. If Republicans expect everyone to just flatter Barrett and never ask her anything too personal or challenging, they should throw another superspreader coffee klatch.

Barrett fell on her face Tuesday when Dianne Feinstein asked if the president could delay the election. (The answer is "no" and it wouldn't benefit him if he could, because his term is finite.) It's a relevant question because Donald Trump is a wannabe despot who keeps insisting the election will be rigged by millions of people voting against him. Durbin took it a step further Wednesday.

DURBIN: Does the president have the authority to deny the right to vote to any person based on their race? What would your answer be?

BARRETT: Obviously, there are many laws in effect, including the equal protection clause, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race ...

Yeah, she was counting on her fingers again while speaking.

BARRETT: Including the 15th Amendment, which protects the right to vote.

She sidestepped the poll taxes and literary tests, as well as violent intimidation, that kept Black people from fully voting for almost a century after passage of the 15th Amendment. She referred to the principle of “external constraints," which would somehow prevent Trump or really any Republican president from doing what Chief Justice John Roberts has already made easier when he gutted the Voting Rights Act.

It strains credulity that she doesn't at least have a passing awareness of what's being discussed among conservatives at the finest evil lairs in the country. She acted this way when Lindsey Graham “joked" that no one would ever want to return to the “good old days" of segregation. That is an ongoing concern!

What's interesting is that Barrett insists that she “won't answer hypotheticals." If asked if Trump could literally shoot someone on Fifth Avenue, you'd think she could reflexively say “no" without violating ethical standards. It's concerning that she's leaving her options open for the targeted reduction of voting rights.

Wow, that was depressing. I almost prefer the Sasse exchange. There's at least some entertainment value.

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).

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