Debate nominee Barrett on issues, not religion

You’ve seen all the clips of Republican senators explaining why they wouldn’t give Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland a vote in 2016. It was an election year so the vote needed to be delayed “until the people have spoken.” It demonstrates why you might want to call them lying hypocrites now that they want to approve President Trump’s nominee before the election.

What you don’t see as often is Sens. Chuck Schumer, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi demanding a vote on Garland. They argued that it was the president’s duty to make the nomination and it was the Senate’s “duty” to vote. They now say a vote is not a “duty” but a nefarious trick by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Frank Cagle

So, I think we can see that both sides are power-hungry hypocrites who will do or say anything to win and principles be damned.

How can we return to the days when Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was confirmed by a margin of 96-3 and Chief Justice John Roberts was confirmed 78-22. President Obama’s nominees Sonia Sotomayor was confirmed 68-31 and Elena Kagan’s vote was 63-37.

The stakes are high when it comes to the makeup of the court. That’s because the Congress refuses to legislate and too many important issues have been kicked to the court to decide.

We need a comprehensive immigration bill but both sides want to use the issue for political purposes. The Republicans have been proclaiming repeal of the Affordable Care Act – aka Obamacare – for years. They even failed to do it when they controlled the House and the Senate. The Democrats point out that the Republicans have a court case to repeal it and the popular provision to protect people with pre-existing conditions (like the Corona virus). Speaker Pelosi could put an amendment on any bipartisan bill to protect these people, but then they wouldn’t have an issue.

The Congress punted on gay marriage and, like abortion, left the issue to the courts. Campaign finance reform, voting rights, gerrymandering. Congress is at an impasse on an emergency bill to deal with the coronavirus. One thing Democrats and Republicans do agree on – millions of dollars in tax cuts for the wealthiest among us. It’s amazing how the only issue that both parties can agree on is taking care of big donors.

Before you make up your mind about Trump nominee Judge Amy Barrett you might want to go to YouTube and called up Amy Barrett and the Hesburgh Lecture. Listen to the speech and the question and answer segment and see if this brilliant constitutional law professor resembles the caricature that you’ve heard a lot about. Make up your own mind.

That Newsweek story that she belongs to a Catholic “cult” that was the model for The Handmaid’s Tale has been retracted, though it still shows up on liberal blogs.

What I’m looking forward to in the confirmation process is the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. You may recall that Democratic vice-presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris “made her bones” with her expert grilling of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Harris and Barrett, wo-mano wo-mano should be a sight to see. For Harris, if she knocks it out of the park, it will justify her pick for the Democratic ticket. If Barrett prevails Harris may experience a backlash from progressives who think she didn’t get the job done.

Thus far the criticisms of Barrett have centered around her religious beliefs as a devout Catholic. There are five Catholics on the Supreme Court now, including Democratic appointee Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Until the appointment of Neil Gorsuch all the members of the Court were either Catholics or Jewish. And Gorsuch was raised in the Catholic Church though he now attends an Episcopal Church. The argument against Barrett is that unlike the other Catholics on the bench she actually believes the church’s teachings.

That’s a tricky argument against her nomination, as Sen. Dianne Feinstein discovered when she argued against Barrett’s appointment to the court of appeals. Feinstein looked like she was bigoted against the largest religious denomination in America. The Catholic Church is four times larger than the next one on the list, the Southern Baptists.

The Twitterverse of Progressives think Supreme Court justices ought to all be agnostics. They can’t grasp the concept that someone can interpret the law and the constitution as it is written, setting aside their personal religious views. Justice Ginsburg and the rest of the court have had no trouble reconciling their personal beliefs and interpreting the law.

The Democrats would do well to focus on Barrett’s writings and opinions. Personal attacks are not a good strategy.

Frank Cagle is a veteran newspaper editor and columnist.


Debate nominee Barrett on issues, not religion