Democratic senator Cory Booker of New Jersey detailed the Founding Fathers’ racism and misogyny in explaining his opposition to constitutional originalism during Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s Tuesday confirmation hearing.
After praising the Founders as “geniuses” for devising the American system of government, Booker implied that an acknowledgement of the racism and misogyny typical of the Founders’ era required a rejection of constitutional originalism.
“I love that my colleagues keep going back to the Constitution but understand this: I laud our Founders, I think they were geniuses. But I understand that millions of Americans understand that they were also flawed people,” Booker said.
“We know our Founders and their values and their ideals but we also know that they were flawed and you can see that in the documents. Native Americans were referred to as savages, women weren’t referred to at all, African Americans were referred to as fractions of human beings. As one civil-rights activist used to say ‘constitutu, constitu, I can only say three-fifths of the word,’” he added.
Booker, who announced his opposition to Kavanaugh immediately after his confirmation was announced, began the hearing by asking Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) to suspend confirmation proceedings until he and his colleagues had the opportunity to examine the roughly 40,000 pages of documents produced by Kavanaugh during his time in the Bush administration.
The documents, which Kavanaugh produced while serving as a White House attorney under president George W. Bush, were released Sunday evening, prompting many Democratic lawmakers to suggest that Tuesday’s proceedings should not be conducted until they could be reviewed.
The New Jersey lawmaker and 2020 presidential hopeful went on to lament the “rise of dark money, the rise of the powerful, the privileged and the elite” in politics and suggested that Kavanaugh’s confirmation would further that trend.