As a licensed history teacher since 1987, I try to “practice what I preach” and demonstrate active citizenship in keeping with the belief: “democracy is not a spectator sport.”
So, I wrote a column supporting the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the US Supreme Court and took the liberty of emailing it to our two US Senators, Mark Warner (D) and Tim Kaine (D) since, according to the Constitution, the Senate must approve presidential appointees to judgeships.
Sen. Warner, seeking re-election in three weeks, sent a reply.
Much of Warner’s email contained half-truths and distortions, so I am taking the liberty to share parts of it and my explanations with our readers. Excerpts of Sen. Warner’s text are in bold italics; my responses are in regular font.
Thank you for contacting me regarding the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to be an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.
This week, the Senate Judiciary Committee is holding hearings to consider Judge Barrett’s nomination to the Court. You may be assured that I am following the hearing closely. There is so much on the line with this Supreme Court vacancy. Everything, from health care to reproductive rights to voting rights, hangs in the balance.
No, “health care” does not hang in the balance. No one in their right mind thinks that doctors’ offices and hospitals will all close, regardless of who sits on the Supreme Court. Besides, it is the legislative branch that writes legislation about everything, including health care, and Warner has been in the US Senate since 2009. If we still have major health care problems after he has been in Congress for twelve years, maybe it’s time for him to step down and let Dr. Daniel Gade take a shot at it.
The term “reproductive rights” is itself dishonest. When liberals use that term, of course they mean “abortion rights.” But that term itself is misleading, because tacking “-rights” to the end of most anything makes it sound better and harder to oppose, because as Americans we don’t want to be “anti-rights” on anything. So, why not just call “reproductive rights” the more accurate “pro-abortion” when that is the “right” that the Left is pushing for? Simple: “abortion” sounds bad, so its supporters cook up better-sounding euphemisms.
But let’s go one step further. Liberals love to preach “follow the science.” OK. Judge Amy Barrett and her husband have five biological children, boys and girls, plus two adopted children from Haiti. Sen. Warner and his wife have three daughters. Based on those facts and if we “follow the science,” we will see that Judge Barrett is a demonstrated expert in the field of “reproduction” and does not need a lecture from Sen. Warner (or anyone else) on that topic.
The American people have a right to have their voices heard before the confirmation of a new justice.
The Senate should not consider a Supreme Court nomination before Inauguration Day.
This sounds good at first, but it too is untrue. The American people HAVE had a right to have their voices heard on the issue of new judges – three times! While running for president in 2016, Candidate Trump made the issue of courts and judges a major issue, even taking the unprecedented step of naming the people he would appoint to judgeships if elected.
The issue was so important, I even wrote this 2016 blog post “Black Robes Matter.” So, the American people spoke on this issue (and many others) with the stunning election of Trump to the White House. Plus, Trump’s term extends till January 2021, so he has the constitutional duty to do his job and still appoint judges.
But there’s more. One-third of the Senate is elected every two years, and the elections of 2014, 2016, and 2018–all three–installed a Republican majority in that chamber. That again shows the American voters have already demonstrated–in three different years–what kinds of judges we want to see. The Republicans are just keeping a key campaign promise.
This is not a question of judicial qualifications or temperament of the nominee – this is about following the standard established by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in the last presidential election year.
After the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016, President Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. Leader McConnell refused – over my own strong objections – to consider Judge Garland’s nomination 10 months prior to the presidential election. This established a new precedent – which Senate leadership should adhere to now.
This is a half-truth. In 2016, we had a divided government. Democrat President Obama controlled the White House, but Republicans controlled both houses of Congress. In that void, Sen. McConnell decided to wait to vote on new judges until after the November election, where voters “broke the tie” and put the White House and Senate in GOP hands. Since then, President Trump has named and the Senate has approved some 200 federal judges. They are performing their Constitutional duty.
We can’t have one set of rules for Democratic presidents, and a different set of rules for Republican presidents.
Here I finally agree with Sen. Warner, but ask: if we can’t have different rules for different parties, why does the mainstream media fawn over Democrats, yet excoriate Republicans? Why did the Obama Democrats illegally spy on the Trump campaign, while the Bush Republicans did not do that to Obama? We DO have a different set of rules for both parties, and that is a part of our problem, but also an issue for another column.
We know Halloween is approaching, but this is no time for the Senate to have a witch-hunt. It’s time to confirm Judge Barrett to the Supreme Court.
– Scott Dreyer