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Politics & Policy

Durbin Condemns ‘Scurrilous and Disgusting Attacks’ on Amy Coney Barrett’s Adopted Children

Sen. Dick Durbin, speaking during a Senate Judiciary Committee business meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., June 11, 2020. (Carolyn Kaster/Reuters)

Illinois Democratic senator Dick Durbin said during remarks on the Senate floor on Thursday that he condemns “the scurrilous and disgusting attacks on the adopted children” of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.

Durbin’s remarks were made in response to South Dakota Republican senator John Thune’s criticism of a New York Times report on Barrett’s adopted children. “I’m still waiting for bipartisan condemnation of media coverage of Judge Barrett’s adopted children,” Thune said. “Somehow, the New York Times felt that Judge Barrett’s brief mentions of her adopted children at her introduction and hearing warranted an article full of unsavory insinuations. I’m wondering if Democrats would have found this appropriate coverage of a Democrat nominee’s children.”

“When it came to the scurrilous and disgusting attacks on the adopted children of this nominee, the Senator from Louisiana spoke up against them, and so did I on the Democratic side,” Durbin said immediately following Thune’s remarks. “They are unacceptable on either side of the aisle. For any senator to suggest otherwise, tells me he did not listen to the hearing itself. I condemned the attack on her family, and I repeat that condemnation on the floor of the Senate today.”

The Louisiana senator to whom Durbin was referring is John Kennedy. At last week’s hearings, Kennedy condemned Ibram X. Kendi — a widely celebrated media and cultural figure on the left — as “some butthead professor” for tweeting on the day of Barrett’s nomination: “Some White colonizers ‘adopted’ Black children. They ‘civilized’ these ‘savage’ children in the ‘superior’ ways of White people, while using them as props in their lifelong pictures of denial, while cutting the biological parents of these children out of the picture of humanity.” 

On Monday, the New York Times reported: “Detractors have criticized as ‘white saviorism’ the judge’s public accounts of her children’s dire situations before they left Haiti.” The Times’ report on Barrett’s children was apparently the first time in history that the paper published private details about the adoption of a public official’s child. 

In 2005, the paper looked into the adoptions of John Roberts’s children but chose not to publish a report. “Bill Keller, the executive editor of the paper, told us that he would not stand for any gratuitous reporting about the Roberts’s children,” according to a statement at the time from the TimesOffice of Public Editor. “He said that as an adoptive parent he is particularly sensitive about this issue.”

“Just because adoptive parents choose to share some of their story, it doesn’t give anyone else the right to dig up details they chose not to share,” Chuck Johnson, president of the National Council for Adoption, told National Review. “Parents and ultimately the maturing child should be in control of what and with whom they share about themselves and their adoption.”

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