Sen. Feinstein needled the Supreme Court nominee on the two issues for which she was picked — to overturn Roe v. Wade and to hand Trump re-election — but DiFi didn’t really manage to swat any flies.
It is justifiably fashionable to loathe California Senator Dianne Feinstein, whether for corrupt tendencies, her soft spot for billionaires, or her (literal) closeness to Senate Republicans. In fact, her most redeeming quality may be that conservatives still despise her. (Observe Rush Limbaugh’s Monday bit about “Dianne Feinstein, who I think it's only fair to mention is Jewish.”)
Feinstein did parry fairly effectively at Tuesday’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings, but probably not enough given the magnitude of the situation that this is the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat, and that Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s sole purpose for nomination is to outlaw abortion and overturn the will of the voters in the upcoming presidential election. And to that end, the Chronicle reports that Barrett managed to sidestep Feinstein’s direct questions on the topic.
Judge Barrett refused to answer a basic question on whether or not the president has the authority to unilaterally delay an election. The answer should have been simple: He does not. pic.twitter.com/q9wYL2MIEl— Senator Dianne Feinstein (@SenFeinstein) October 13, 2020
Notably on the election issue, Feinstein asked “Does the Constitution give the President of the United States the authority to unilaterally delay a general election under any circumstances? Does federal law?”
Despite the obvious Yes or No nature of the question, Barrett ducked with “I would need to hear arguments from the litigants before me, and read briefs, and consult with my law clarks.”
Earlier today I spoke about Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon (pictured), two friends who were finally able to marry 58 years after they met. Del died just two months later. Judge Barrett refused to answer whether the Constitution protects the fundamental right to marry. pic.twitter.com/h3cp6jA6Uh— Senator Dianne Feinstein (@SenFeinstein) October 13, 2020
Feinstein did score symbolic points on gay marriage (which is certainly threatened!) and the potential overturning of Roe vs. Wade, but Democrats do seem determined to make this fight primarily about the Affordable Care Act. Yet still, in each case, Barrett effectively dodged with pablum like “I can’t express views on cases or pre-commit to approaching a case in any particular way.”
Judge Barrett has said she shares a legal philosophy with Justice Scalia, who explicitly stated that Roe was wrongly decided and called for it to be overturned. When Judge Barrett was asked to agree to follow Roe as settled law, she refused. pic.twitter.com/hjYIUtGVGs— Senator Dianne Feinstein (@SenFeinstein) October 13, 2020
The non-answer thing frankly does work for Republicans’ cynical goals, and it’s certainly more dignified than Brett Kavanuagh’s unhinged “I like beer! I still like beer!” tantrum. But as an American, the non-answers are troubling given that Barrett has probably the thinnest resume we’ve seen for a Supreme Court seat in the modern era.
The weird part is that we've somehow as a society gotten to the point where 2 years of clerking, 3 years of practice, and 3 years as an appellate judge is suddenly adequate qualification for the highest court we have— T. Greg Doucette (@greg_doucette) October 7, 2020
It's like affirmative action for the religious right https://t.co/nQcMoImvZn
Senator Kamala Harris got her chance to grill Amy Coney Barrett later on Tuesday, with the senator doing her prosecutorial best to pin down Barrett on whether she was aware that President Trump had explicitly stated that he expected her to overturn the Affordable Care Act. Barrett ultimately seemed to admit that she was made aware of the president's comments in her meetings with senators before the hearing.
Harris asked Barrett if she would consider the impact on human lives in making decisions on the court, and Barrett responded in the affirmative. Harris then proceeded to ask if Barrett would consider the plights of millions of Americans who fear losing their health insurance during a pandemic — but Barrett refused to be pinned down on how she would rule on any case. She even invoked the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg who said during her own confirmation hearing that she would provide "No hints, no previews, no forecasts" of her potential rulings.
As of Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee has already scheduled its first vote on Barrett's confirmation for Thursday morning, with a final vote to occur a week later, per committee rules. The full Senate is then expected to take up the nomination on October 26, eight days before the election.
Related: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Is Dead. We're All Doomed. [SFist]
Image: @SenFeinstein via Twitter
This post has been updated to include details on Senator Harris' questioning of Barrett.