Politics & Policy

Chasing Amy

Judge Amy Coney Barrett displays her blank notepad after Sen. John Cornyn (R. Texas) asked a question about note taking during her confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., October 13, 2020. (Susan Walsh/Reuters)
Barrett not only deserves a Supreme Court seat, she deserves a Tony award for maintaining a straight face through three days of Moron Theater.

This week it was A. C. B. versus I.C.P.: Insane Clown Posse. Poised, graceful, unflappable, unbeatable, Judge Amy Coney Barrett sat patiently as one idiotic question after another was flung in her general direction, each time by a Democrat convinced he or she had come up with a “Gotcha!” for the ages. Pat Leahy (I.C.P., Vt.) asked whether a president must obey a court order. As though explaining this to a toddler, Barrett replied, “The Supreme Court can’t control what the president obeys.” Mazie Hirono (I.C.P., Hawaii) asked whether Barrett had ever sexually assaulted anyone and scolded the judge for using the term “sexual preference,” which has just this week been declared offensive by I.C.P. fans but had previously been used by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Joe Biden, and many other members and allies of the I.C.P. movement. Cory Booker (I.C.P., N.J.) asked whether Barrett condemned white supremacy, and when she said yes, he said he wished the president would say that, although the president already has said that, and Booker’s wishes are none of the Supreme Court’s business anyway, unless he wishes the high Court to apply the Constitution, which seems unlikely.

Hey, kids! Did you know “climate change” is in the U.S. Constitution? It’s right there in Article VIII, Section 4, right after VIII.3, “White Trousers After Labor Day, Wearing Of” (punishable by life imprisonment without parole, unless you live in Miami) but before VIII.5, “How Long You Are Legally Required to Wait Before Honking Your Horn at the Guy in Front of You Who Didn’t Move When the Light Turned Green” (three seconds, except in New York City, where it’s one-tenth of a second).

The Constitutional Climate Change section was adduced by one Kamala Harris of California, who as it turns out is a credentialed lawyer (!), a former prosecutor (!!), a U.S. senator (!!!) and, after Joe Biden calls a lid on being chief executive, very possibly our president in a couple of years (!!!!). Harris would, of course, be a historic president: the first I.C.P. member ever to serve as the head of the executive branch. If I indicate surprise it is merely because it seems to me unusual that a person in Harris’s position should not understand how the United States system of government works, to wit: Congress passes bills, a president signs them into law, and the Supreme Court either allows them to stand or strikes them down if they run afoul of the Constitution.

Yet Harris and the rest of the I.C.P. asked Barrett 653 versions of the following question: “Given that [liberal policy position X] is a wonderful idea, shouldn’t we pretend that it is already required by the Constitution?” Barrett must have been sorely tempted to walk over to each senator who asked this question and slap him or her with a large mackerel. Barrett not only deserves a Supreme Court seat, she deserves a Tony award for maintaining a straight face through three days of Moron Theater.

After asking Barrett whether COVID-19 was contagious, and whether smoking causes cancer, Harris asked — zing! — whether “You believe that climate change is happening and is threatening the air we breathe and the water we drink?” Never mind that “climate change” is not the same thing as the pollution that is forever threatening the air we breathe and the water we drink. Whether the judge believes “that climate change is happening” is no more pertinent to Barrett’s jurisprudence than whether she believes in putting ketchup on scrambled eggs. Barrett’s job is to apply the law, and if any climate-change legislation runs afoul of the Constitution, she would presumably vote to void it, just as she would presumably vote to uphold any climate-change legislation permitted by the Constitution. Yet Harris imagined that she was luring Barrett into a devastating trap. Barrett declined: “You have asked me a series of questions that are completely uncontroversial . . . and then trying to analogize that to elicit an opinion from me that is on a very contentious matter of public debate and I will not do that. I will not express a view on a matter of public policy, especially one that is politically controversial.” I would have preferred the mackerel-slapping treatment, but this amounted to saying, “I didn’t put on a nice dress to get down and play in your sandbox of idiocy, Senator,” which worked just as well.

Harris is the special kind of idiot who believes that some entity called science, or possibly Science, has resolved all questions relating to climate change (how much subsidy money should we pour into solar-panel manufacturers and which companies should qualify and under what conditions? Hang on, I think it’s on page 434 of my Big Book of Science). So she also pressed the question of whether Barrett would defer to the scientists about climate change. This would have been an ideal moment for Barrett to dramatically rise to her feet and strike a large gong set up for the purpose behind her, like Rex Reed on the fabled Gong Show, to indicate that it was time for Harris swiftly to exit the premises in a cloud of shame. Instead, Barrett ignored the stupid question and gently guided Harris back to the law by saying, “If a case comes before me involving environmental regulation I will certainly apply all applicable law, deferring when the law requires me to. And as I’m sure you know, Senator Harris, the Administrative Procedure Act does require courts to defer to agency fact-finding and to agency regulations when they’re supported by substantial evidence.” Got that, Senator?

The iconic moment of a week the Democrats spent trying and failing to set a fire in the national dumpster came when Senator John Cornyn asked Barrett to hold up the cheat sheet she had brought along that enabled her to give such cogent, astute answers to every question, no matter how vapid, and she instead smiled and held up a perfectly clean, blank notepad. Barrett had somehow managed not to cover the pad with giant question marks, clown caricatures or sharp queries such as, “How did Mazie Hirono graduate from Georgetown Law?” As she held it up for the cameras, the notepad provided a picture to the nation of every good point the Democrats had made, every black mark the committee had managed to attach to her name, and every reason she should not be confirmed.

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