As we watch the ongoing Senate Judiciary Committee reviewing the qualifications of President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, we are learning more about the senators and their political agendas than we are about the nominee herself. That is a dis-service to both the position Judge Barrett is nominated to fill and the job of the Supreme Court.
Engraved above the main entrance of the Supreme Court Building in Washington DC are the words “Equal Justice Under the Law.” The Court, described by Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughs in 1932 as “distinctively American in concept and function,” is designed to ensure the promise of equal justice under law and to act as guardian and interpreter of the Constitution. Based on the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings in the past with Justice Kavanaugh and now with Appellate Judge Barrett’s nomination, it is obvious that there is more a concern about political results than the law and Constitution which are the two issues that should be the very purpose of the hearing.
America is dependent on a fair and tempered court of arbitration to assure “the administration of justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich,….” as is described in the Supreme Court oath of office. But there is little in the questions being asked of Judge Barrett as she faces the 22 senators seeking to understand her legal knowledge, temperament and philosophy. Yet this is the job of the senate committee, to assure us that she will faithfully perform those duties should she be selected to fill the seat vacated by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Instead of delving into her remarks such as “Courts have a vital responsibility to the rule of law, which is critical to a free society. But courts are not designed to solve every problem or right every wrong in our public life,” Democrat senators have chosen to quiz her on how she will vote in up-coming cases such as a pivotal Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) case or cases involving abortion and the renowned Roe vs Wade decision.
The line of questions being asked by the Democrat inquisitors clearly notes their focus is on politics and not jurisprudence. This was patently obvious with Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-Ca) who said “Health care coverage for millions of Americans is at stake,” and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse’s (D-Del.) who opined that Judge Barrett is “a judicial torpedo aimed” at Obamacare. None of these issues have anything to do with the Supreme Court nominee’s job or responsibility and yet this was the tone of the first day of the judicial hearing.
In yet other comments and questions it was obvious from the Democrat contingent in the hearing that they want the nominee to foreshadow the decisions she might make on controversial cases without the benefit of evidence or considering all sides of these cases. These were disturbing questions considering that they were coming from practicing lawyers such as Sen. Kamala Harris- D, Calif., who is also the Democrat vice presidential candidate.
In framing their remarks and questions these members have already determined what the outcome should be, putting them in the position of both judge and jury. This is the very essence of what the Supreme Court was created to prevent.
The nation is being poorly served as its laws and Constitution are being sacrificed on the altar of politics and partisan expediency in the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. Fortunately, Judge Barett has her eyes focused on the core principles of the highest court in the land as she explained in her opening day remarks - “The policy decisions and value judgements of government must be made by the political branches elected by and accountable to the people. The public (and Congress) should not expect courts to do so, and courts should not try.”