Photo by Saul Loeb/Getty. Front photo by Alex Brandon/AP
Left few options by a damn-the-torpedoes GOP bent on getting power and doing evil and never mind rules or promises or democratic norms or the dying wish of a legal icon, Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee plan to boycott Thursday's vote on Amy Coney Barrett to protest the "sham process" of ramming through a SCOTUS nomination with an election underway. Citing the threat she poses to multiple "core rights that Americans cherish," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer announced the 10 Dems "will not grant this process any further legitimacy" by participating in the markup vote. It's unclear if the move will have more than a symbolic impact: Committee rules require two minority party members be present to transact business, but the GOP, being the GOP, could create a way around them. Democrats will hold two press conferences instead, and to fill their empty seats with large photos of people who would be hurt by a rollback of the Affordable Care Act. Given an apparently lousy vetting process, Senate Dems aren't the only ones dismayed at the choice of Barrett. Among troubling stories leaking from her past: She served three years as trustee of a private school affiliated with People of Praise that effectively barred kids of same-sex parents and gay teachers, and the cult is investigating sexual abuse and emotional trauma allegations by former members; many are also seeking support after being "triggered" by her nomination. Other Catholics have slammed her "bad faith" on health care, climate change and voting rights; the National Catholic Reporter argues, "Americans deserve better than a relativist dressed in originalist drag.”
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The ongoing emergence of dirty secrets is unsurprising in light of a spectacularly disingenuous, uninformative nomination hearing - asample, in her grating baby voice: “I mean, I’ve read things about climate change. I would not say I have firm views on it” - deemed "the most useless job interview ever." Perversely but impressively, she kept up the obfuscation through 184 pages of newly-released, follow-up questions and pretty much no answers in written testimony from the Senate Judiciary Committee. Again and again, Barrett dodged basic, factual questions. Does she think climate change is real? She can't discuss it because it's "controversial," a "sensitive political topic" and a "very contentious matter of public debate," perhaps akin to whether or not the sun will rise tomorrow, and at this rate, who knows. Maybe close to 100 times, often using the excuse it involved litigation or "political controversy," she responded to questions with some version of, "It would be improper for me as a sitting judge to opine on..." or, "It would not be appropriate for me to opine further on..." She could not opine on whether there is systemic racism. If she thinks foreign countries are interfering with our elections. If health care is a right. If a president is above the law. If asylum seekers can seek asylum, voting rights are affected by a pandemic, separate is really equal, women's reproductive rights depend on where they live, a president can ignore a SCOTUS decision, the government should forcefully sterilize women, trans and LGBTQ Americans have equal rights, addressing sexual assault means discriminating against men. And is it okay to vote twice in an election? "It would not be appropriate," she responded, to opine on "abstract legal issues." Gilead, here we come.
Photo by Alex Brandon/AP