With six of her seven children, her husband and other family members watching proudly from the seats behind her, Barrett demonstrated a keen intellect, along with a formidable self-confidence leavened by just the right splash of humility under hours of senatorial questioning.
After a couple of fearsome sounding “Please answer with a yes or no” questions about nothing even remotely memorable, Harris lapsed into another monologue about Ruth Bader Ginsburg and abortion rights. Virtually all her questions were a retread of questions and topics covered earlier in the day. The vice-presidential candidate didn’t even lay a glove on the unscarred Barrett.
In an obviously coordinated effort, Democrats complained about a “rushed” confirmation process taking place while Americans are already voting in a pandemic-hit presidential election. They displayed posters depicting seriously ill constituents stating their lives would be destroyed if the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, were ruled unconstitutional. The senators with their “Show & Tell” displays looked like they were pleading with Judge Barrett for favorable rulings in future cases because they have no way to prove her unqualified for a Supreme Court slot.
Throughout the hearing Democrats repeatedly asserted that Barrett would likely rule against the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Much of the hearing focused on such matters as Barrett’s judicial philosophy of Constitutional “originalism” and “textualism.” She believes the Constitution should be interpreted with the original intent of the founding fathers in mind and statutes should be interpreted in accordance with the actual words or “text” used by legislators. Judges should not impose their own policy beliefs to advance changing cultural norms.
One of the more interesting lines of questioning of the day was pursued by Judge Barrett’s fellow mid-Westerner, Minnesota Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar. Klobuchar recalled going on hiking trips with her mother on snow covered trails in northern Minnesota. They would follow the footprints of deer or other animals hoping to get a glimpse at one. Klobuchar’s point: that the only way to determine Barret’s likely decisions on such controversial issues as abortion and the ACA is to follow her tracks in prior writings and published decisions.
Judge Barrett’s journey through Klobuchar’s snow-covered trail was a great metaphor, but it only led to Harris’ uninspired video appearance during the early evening hours. Harris, who refused to attend the hearing in person because of Covid-19 fears, looked a bit harried as she questioned Barrett. When the senator was done, the judge still had the blank, white piece of Senate stationery sitting untouched before her. No one in “The World’s Greatest Deliberative Body” had asked a question tough enough to require even a scribbled note.