The confirmation hearings of Judge Amy Coney Barrett have begun, but the Democrats are not participating. Oh, they are showing up – except Democrat vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris, who is monitoring the hearing from her Senate office.
It is part of the Democrat’s nonsensical narrative that Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham was not providing a safe workplace. To hear the Democrats, one might think that Graham had arranged the meeting at a leper colony. Harris’ grandstanding was best exposed by her Democrat colleagues, who are taking their seats in the reconfigured hearing room.
By not participating, I mean that Democrats are using the time on the telly to make campaign speeches. They have strategically decided that they will pump Obamacare as their one and only substantive issue. In their opening statements on day one, there was hardly a mention of Barrett or her qualifications for a seat on the high court. A National Public Radio affiliate, WKMS, ran an online headline that read, “Democrats Convene a Parallel Hearing: About Healthcare.”
One Democrat senator after another first attacked President Trump for his handling of the Covid-19 Pandemic – or anything else that came to mind – and then presented an anecdotal story of an unfortunate person with a serious medical condition – falsely suggesting that the person would die if Obamacare was suddenly terminated– which is not what would happen even if the Supreme Court found the Affordable Care Act to be unconstitutional.
What is even more remarkable is that the future of the ACA is already in the hands of the Supreme Court, which will start hearing arguments shortly after the election. The final decision of the Court is not likely to be changed by Barrett’s presence or absence from the Court.
To underscore their message, billboard-size portraits of the medically impaired individuals were situated behind each Democrat speaker.
There was a surrealism about the hearing – almost comical. One of the evergreen comedic schticks is to have a person show up at a meeting to give a speech only to belatedly realize that his or her subject was completely unrelated to the event. That is what the Democrats looked like.
For their part, Republican senators focused on the nominee. There was, of course, a lot of repetition as each would praise Barrett’s brains, demeanor and her motherhood over a multi-racial family. They also offered assurances that Barrett would be guided by the specific language of the Constitution in rendering her opinions.
There was one senator who was noteworthy for his exceptional opening remarks. It was Utah Senator Mike Lee – recently recovered from Covid-19. He provided a graduate school lecture on the purpose of the Supreme Court – a valuable preface to the hearings.
He pushed back against any perception that the Court was rife with dissension and partisan conflict. Lee noted that the vast majority of opinions are 9-0, 8-1 or 7-2 – and they deal with obscure issues of law and constitutionality. Even in cases where there has been a 5-4 split decision, the sides did not always break on the generally observed philosophic or partisan lines.
More importantly, Lee explained that the Court does not make policy, but simply decides matters of constitutionality and law. It is what is written and not what an individual justice believes should be written. The Court looks to the past for guidance, not to the future.
Lee emphasized that when a law or action is struck down by the Court, it does not necessarily mean that the intent of the original law is lost. It is usually just a matter that the law or action was taken by the wrong authority or poorly written. While Lee did not use it as an example, Abortion is a good one. Even if Roe v. Wade is struck down by the Court, abortion would not be ended since states could continue to control it. Same is true of the ACA. There could be – and would be – something constitutional to take its place.
All-in-all, Lee’s comments were about the only thing worth hearing. Everything else was obvious, repetitious or unrelated. Many complain that these hearings are being rushed. Judging from the early sessions, the likely outcome, and the Democrat’s intellectual absence, one might argue that they are carrying on too long.
So, there ‘tis.