Senate Democrats are trying to turn the confirmation hearing on Amy Coney Barrett into a political victory for their party, but so far they’ve failed miserably. Barrett is the poster woman the Republican Party needs to attract college-educated female voters and help close the gender gap.
Though Democrats don’t have the votes to block Barrett’s confirmation, they’re exploiting the televised hearings in pursuit of two goals. They’re fearmongering, warning that in a case already before the Supreme Court, Barrett will provide the fifth vote to overturn the Affordable Care Act. Message: Blame President Donald Trump and vote him out of office on Nov. 3.
Democrats are also trying to undermine public confidence in any Supreme Court ruling on the outcome of the 2020 election. Message: Unless Barrett recuses herself, the outcome is illegitimate.
The Democrats on the Judiciary Committee put up poster-size photographs of sick patients who benefit from the Affordable Care Act’s protections for preexisting conditions and elimination of lifetime caps on health costs. Children suffering from cystic fibrosis or paralyzed after a car accident or struggling with diabetes. One heart-rending story after another. “Kenny is a real person whose life depends on the ACA,” Dick Durbin, D-Ill., told the hearing. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., warned that Barrett is nothing less than a “judicial torpedo aimed” at the ACA.
Barrett’s past legal reasoning suggests she’s unlikely to vote to overturn the entire law. But more important to most people watching, Barrett has compassion and real-world experience dealing with costly medical problems. She took pains to explain that when she first brought her adopted daughter Vivian home from Haiti, doctors predicted the baby would never be able to walk or talk. Barrett has six other children now, including a son, JP, adopted from Haiti, and a youngster born with Down syndrome.
Durbin asked her on Tuesday if she’s seen the George Floyd tape. Yes, Barrett explained. It was “very difficult” for her family. She worried that she has raised her children “in a cocoon” shielded from racial hate. She and her daughter Vivian “wept together,” worrying that little JP or a son Vivian might have someday could face the same brutality.
Democrats forcefully pressed Barrett to recuse herself. Richard Blumenthal warned Barrett that her “participation in any case involving Donald Trump’s election would immediately do explosive, enduring harm to the court’s legitimacy and to your own credibility.”
However, blame the Democratic Party for the increasing likelihood that the election will land in the Supreme Court. Democratic groups across the country are aggressively suing in lower state and federal courts demanding that ballots arriving after Nov. 3 be counted, contrary to state laws. In effect, canceling the finality of Election Day. That strategy is already being challenged in the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court could resolve the issue before the election, or afterward.
Asking Barrett to recuse herself makes no sense, no more than demanding that Trump appointees Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh do so or that the justices who were confirmed to the high court when Joe Biden chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee recuse themselves. Justice Ginsburg didn’t recuse herself in a case involving President Bill Clinton, though he had named her to the high court.
Barrett told the hearing that she owns a gun, is pro-life and attends church regularly. But she also assured the senators that her duty is to uphold the law, not impose her private values and views on the Court or the nation. “I am not Queen of the world,” she said.
Durbin challenged Barrett’s assurances, arguing that “it’s simplistic to think” being a justice is “a robotic performance.” He’s got a point. But as Lindsey Graham pointed out at the beginning of Tuesday’s hearing, “no one ever questions whether our liberal friends can set aside their views.”
Graham said he will do everything he can to make sure she has a seat on the high court. Without a doubt, she has the qualifications, and he has the votes.
Betsy McCaughey is a former lieutenant governor of New York and author of “The Next Pandemic,” available at Amazon.com. Contact her at [email protected] To find out more about Betsy McCaughey and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.