As Adam Liptak of the New York Times reported last evening, Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett’s answers to the questions Senate Judiciary Committee members posed yesterday represented, for the most part, a “deft mix of expertise and evasion”:
Judge Barrett seemed to have studied recent hearings carefully, absorbing their lessons. They were presciently summarized in a 1981 memorandum written by a young White House lawyer named John G. Roberts Jr., who helped prepare Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, another Reagan nominee, for her confirmation hearings.
“The approach was to avoid giving specific responses to any direct questions on legal issues likely to come before the court,” the memo said, “but demonstrating in the response a firm command of the subject area and awareness of the relevant precedents and arguments.”
That said, there was at least one important moment last evening when, under questioning from California Senator and vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris, Barrett offered a thoroughly unbelievable response. As Maanvi Singh of The Guardian reported, the exchange centered on the debate over the future of the Affordable Care Act. After delivering a speech about the importance of the law, Harris then posed a question to Barrett. This is from Singh’s account:
She then addressed Barrett: “Prior to your nomination, were you aware of President Trump’s statement committing to nominate judges who will strike down the Affordable Care Act? And I’d appreciate a yes or no answer.”
Barrett maintained that before she was nominated to the Supreme Court, she was unaware of his public statements. “I don’t recall hearing about or seeing such statements,” Barrett said.
Harris asked how many months after Barrett wrote an article criticizing John Roberts’ decision upholding the Affordable Care Act she received her nomination for her appeals court position.
“The Affordable Care Act and all of its protections hinge on this seat,” Harris said.
“I would hope the committee would trust my integrity,” Barrett said, noting, as she has done throughout the hearings, that she has not made any commitments to rule a certain way on the healthcare law.
The assertion, and Barrett’s implication that she had somehow tuned out the president’s loud, public criterion for judges he’d appoint, is difficult to believe.
Indeed, it is. And the evasion goes right to the heart of the deep and fundamental flaw of Barrett’s candidacy for the Court — as well as those of Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. Simply put, any judge who would happily appear at the White House to accept a nomination from a serial liar and would-be autocrat like Donald Trump — a man who has quite blatantly and publicly articulated and established litmus tests for potential nominees — and then pretend to be unaware of those tests is simply not to be believed.
Barrett has known for some time that she was a potential nominee for the Supreme Court. Asking us to believe that she was unaware of the conditions Trump had publicly announced he would apply in selecting such a person indicates that another virus may have been spreading at that infamous Rose Garden ceremony: Trump’s incurable case of deceitfulness.