Judge Barrett: Willing Pawn
Anyone watching the confirmation hearings of Amy Coney Barrett will likely agree that Judge Barrett appears brilliant. She’s become an instant internet celebrity thanks to a photo of her holding up a blank notepad when asked what documents or notes she had brought with her to the hearing. Judge Barrett has endured days of twelve hour long hearings, facing complicated questions spoken in legalese. Throughout, she has managed to keep her answers pointed, targeted, and yet evasive. Judge Barrett has been praised for her intellect, her poise, her conduct, her family, her role as a working mother, as a devoutly religious American. However, there is one major flaw in this story — she has become a pawn in the game of politics.
Much has been made of the timing of this court nomination. Mere days ahead of a national election, a nominee is currently going through the confirmation process while millions of Americans are still dealing with the effects of a pandemic every single day. Many can’t afford basic necessities because they have lost their employment, their housing, and maybe more. Still, those in Congress find it necessary to have this confirmation happen swiftly and without interruption, all while they argue over whether or not the American people deserve support — and how much — during this staggeringly negative economic time.
Moreover, we’ve heard multiple Senators on the Judiciary Committee comment on the demeanor of Judge Barrett and her ability to remain professional and constructive during her nomination process. Senators have also praised their counterparts for not talking over one another, or Judge Barrett, and for remaining respectful during their questioning. This speaks to the wildly unhinged political atmosphere within which the country finds itself today thanks in no small part to the sitting President.
Where Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing was a free-wheeling ride on the circus themed merry-go-round, Judge Barrett’s hearing has remained rather calm. Instead, Judge Barrett, and Americans watching, are hearing minimal questions to Barrett herself while the Senators instead take the majority of their time to opine about their perspectives and how the other side of the aisle is wrong, short sighted, lying, whatever. Rather than allowing Barrett to show her supposed brilliance, they instead take the majority of the time for themselves so they can speak to the plight of the American people. After all, what’s the use of asking questions that will assuredly be dodged each time?
Judge Barrett said in her opening statement on Monday that she did not consider herself to be a political pawn thrust into this process. Yet, that’s exactly what she is whether she acknowledges it or not. For the last five years, Donald Trump has repeatedly made clear that were he to have the opportunity to nominate individuals to the Supreme Court he would ensure that these nominees would be of a certain caliber of thinking. Specifically, he wants Obamacare and Roe overturned and expects his nominees to act accordingly.
Senate Republicans consistently argue that Senate Democrats repeatedly raise questions surrounding Judge Barrett’s personal views, beliefs, or religion. In fact, Republicans on the Judicial Committee are the ones who continue to raise religion as an outright issue, most of the time so they can drone on about the importance of religious liberty. Conversely, Democrats on the Judicial Committee continue to press Judge Barrett on her thoughts regarding the law, including past decisions she has made, as well as how her personally held beliefs would inform her judgement on the court. Barrett continues to maintain that her personal beliefs do not inform her judicial decisions.
Judge Barrett has been an expert at dodging questions in order to preserve her opinion on any cases that may come before her. She repeatedly cites her predecessor, Justice Ginsburg, when declining to answer certain questions. None of this really matters, because of course she had a team to prepare her for any and all answers that may be asked during her hearing. There is really only one question that matters far more than any other.
Of all the questions Judge Barrett has been asked over the last few days, there is one that I can’t get out of my mind: Why not remove herself from the nomination process?
If Judge Barrett does not want to be a pawn in this game, and since she is aware that this nomination process is highly irregular and not supported by a majority of the American public, why then does she continue to participate in this charade?
Placing myself in Judge Barrett’s shoes, I feel the answer is clear. In order to remain outside of the political chess game, despite the fact that I may believe I am qualified for the position, I would very seriously consider removing myself from the nomination. I would do this because I would be reluctant to engage in a situation where a sitting president felt it was acceptable to so strongly use the Court to his advantage. Knowingly accepting a position on the Court in lieu of that would place anyone in an extremely compromising position.
Judge Barrett has undoubtedly worked extremely diligently during her career with the prospect of making it to the bench of the highest court. The fact that she is caught in the crossfire of this situation must be very disappointing for her. Nevertheless, it is her duty to remove herself from this nomination process until after the election. President Trump will likely replace her and then proceed to trash her reputation, so this truly would be the more difficult decision. At least with the confirmation hearing she knows she will reach an end where she will be confirmed to the Court. The other path offers only praise from one side and ridicule from the other. Oh, the irony.
Knowing that Judge Barrett has likely worked towards this goal for the majority of her career, I can understand why she would not want to give that up. I can empathize with the idea that she deserves this seat based on her hard work. Analyzing the choice of remaining in the process, I can only determine that her judgment is clouded.
Her judgment is clouded either because she believes this seat is deserved, which would be a stark contrast to the humility she has tried to show, or because she believes in the agenda which President Trump, and the Republican Party, have nominated her to carry out. When asked by Senator Tillis why she decided to move forward with this process, she stated “If we are to protect our institutions and our freedoms, and the rule of law that is the basis of society and the freedom that we all enjoy, and we want to protect that for our children and our children’s children, then we need to participate in that work.” From what is Judge Barrett attempting to protect our institutions and the rule of law? She must believe there is an agenda at work to undermine the judicial process. Given her record of writing and decision-making, we can only assume with near certainty that the danger is, according to her nominator, the liberal left.
Judge Barrett is a knowing and participatory pawn in this game of politics, despite her protests stating otherwise. She is actively engaging in the work of the Republican Party, whose goal for decades has been to pack the courts with conservative judges in order to affect the outcome of public policy for the next 30 years.
For that, she is not qualified for this position.