The Amy Coney Barrett SCOTUS hearings continued yesterday. Senators asked questions of Barrett and some of her answers were particularly disturbing. Barrett was asked if the law prohibits the intimidation of voters at the polls, and Barrett answered that she wouldn’t respond to a hypothetical case that may come before the court. But the question wasn’t about a hypothetical case, it was about the written law. Federal law clearly and unambiguously prohibits voter intimidation. Why was Barrett being so coy and defensive? She seemed willing to discuss major supreme court decisions that she deemed to be “Super Precedents,” like Brown v the Board of Education, but wouldn’t talk about cases like Roe v Wade that were merely precedents. First of all, Barrett was making an arbitrary and meaningless distinction. ANY prior ruling can, in theory, be overturned. But second, where the hell did this notion of “Super Precedents” come from? It seems like a made-up term used to cherry pick and justify which legal decisions are agreeable and which are not. According to Barrett, nobody disputes Brown but many still dispute Roe. Bullshit. There are plenty of conservative legal minds who dispute Brown, and conversely, Roe has been the law of the land for 47 years. The majority of US citizens alive today were not alive when Roe was decided. And yet it’s somehow a lesser ruling still in hot dispute? It’s only in dispute in the narrow legal swamp-minds of the Federalist Society and the wealthy religious extremists who fund judges to remove it. For the clear and consistent majority of Americans, Roe has been settled law for a very long time.

With great poise, Barrett stated that she will faithfully uphold the law and won’t bring her personal beliefs into the equation. But this is also rubbish. “Upholding the law” is a facade that hides the more accurate truth of “interpreting the Constitution.” The law isn’t a fixed star that Barrett applies. The law is an interpretation, an evaluation that she makes based on her biases and beliefs about the how Constitution was written, what the framers intended, what the actual words mean, and on and on. It’s galling how many Supreme Court justices in recent years interpret the Constitution in a way that just happens to produce outcomes that match their personal beliefs–and the personal beliefs of the wealthy and powerful interests that paid millions to ensure their seat on the bench.

Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse did a masterful job yesterday of presenting to the ACB confirmation hearing a step-by-step guide to the big-money corruption of the Supreme Court nominating process and the Supreme Court itself. Whitehouse shined a spotlight on the few vastly wealthy groups that control and dictate who the Republicans place on the court, and which cases are fast-tracked and bolstered by a dark-money legal machine before the court. It’s a fascinating, disgusting, and scandalous distillation of GOP malfeasance that everybody should know about, and you can watch it here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjcXVKg43qY

Barrett put a lot of effort into normalizing herself, into appearing like a plausible judge rather than the radical extremist her record indicates. But don’t take my word for it, take the word of a former student of hers, Julie Gunnigle, now a candidate for Maricopa County Attorney.

Amy Coney Barrett was my law school professor. I’m terrified. I was a student at the University of Notre Dame Law School when Amy Coney Barrett was a professor. She was known to be an excellent teacher. But the biggest lesson she taught me didn’t have anything to do with the law. She taught me that a person could be kind and civil while embracing an ideology that regards some individuals worthy of fewer rights and less freedom. In Amy Coney Barrett’s America, women will be prosecuted for abortions, Americans will be stripped of healthcare coverage, we will lose the right to marry who we love, unions will be gutted. And who knows what else. If she is confirmed to the Court, the overturning of Roe v. Wade is all but guaranteed.

Julie Gunnigle

And Barrett’s confirmation seems all but certain. Rather than use their time attacking Barrett’s extreme religion or her short and lamentable judicial record, most Democratic Senators attempted to appeal to her conscience not to overturn the ACA. They know she’s likely to rule on it soon after taking the bench, and they gave example after example of the real harm it would do to actual people if wholly overturned. Will their efforts be enough to persuade her? We will likely find out.

But either way, how should Democrats proceed if they can take back both the White House and the Senate? Jamelle Bouie gave a powerful answer this question yesterday in the New York Times, putting to words what many liberals/progressives feel about the situation:

The same Constitution that says Republicans can confirm Barrett weeks before the election, that allows them to retroactively impose a new and novel partisan requirement (same-party control of the Senate) on judicial confirmations, also says Congress can add as many seats to the Supreme Court as it wishes. It says Congress can strip the Supreme Court of its jurisdiction to hear certain kinds of cases. It says the judiciary is as subject to “checks and balances” as any other institution in American government and that the people through their elected officials have the right to discipline a court that works against their will.

Jamelle Bouie, New York Times

Full editorial here:

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/13/opinion/barrett-biden-mcconnell.html

If we can take back the Senate and the White House, we will need to PRESS our reps to take strong and concrete action to balance the court. Elections have consequences.

Barrett faces the Senate again today and she’s likely to get sharper and more focused questions from Democrats now that they know what to expect from her.

Reminder 1: Rep Delgado will debate his GOP challenger tomorrow night at 8pm on WMHT.

Reminder 2: There are a number of phone banks taking place tonight around the NY-19 area. You can find more info on them here:

https://www.indivisibleny19.com/eventcalendar-2/

Keep resisting Trump and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”

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