Bench Memos

Law & the Courts

A Closing Note on Barrett Hearing

Senator Kamala Harris (D., Calif.) speaks virtually during the second day of the Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett on Capitol Hill, October 13, 2020. (Patrick Semansky/Reuters)

I’m not going to add my own lengthy assessment of the Barrett hearing. Very briefly: Judge Barrett was stellar in all respects. Of the other eight Supreme Court confirmation hearings that I have observed closely (going back to RBG’s in 1993), I can’t think of a nominee who performed better.

By contrast, Senate Democrats were dismal—leveling ill-founded charges in a transparent short-term play for Election Day and embracing a results-oriented contempt for impartial decisionmaking.

As you’d expect, Senator Kamala Harris epitomized these flaws. For example, in her final round of questioning, she contended that Barrett had “a pattern of … ruling against workers and in favor of corporations.” The three cases she trotted out in supposed support of this claim—without actually posing a question that Barrett could respond to—were all unanimous panel rulings, each of the first two joined by one of the most liberal members of her court and the third, as she had already explained to Senator Booker, faithfully applying Supreme Court precedent (and not drawing an en banc call from any of her colleagues). Short tweet thread with details here.

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