Is Amy Coney Barrett a super-mom and super-judge or a grim reaper for the afflicted? It depends on whom you ask. During the first day of her Supreme Court confirmation hearings, Democrats made it out like Barrett had been summoned by Donald Trump, sent forth to destroy Obamacare like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. Republicans spent their time repeating how lovely her family was and lamenting the state of the republic that a judicial confirmation hearing was seen as an appropriate place for a policy debate. Barrett proclaimed her independence from policy concerns, which Republicans hope is true, and Democrats rue.
Democratic senators used the open space in the cleared hearing room to prop up poster-sized photos of relatable constituents. These Americans depend on Obamacare’s mandated coverage of pre-existing conditions to afford life-sustaining care. What does that have to do with Judge Barrett becoming Justice Barrett? Well, it’s simply a naked appeal to a results-oriented appointment. Democrats were open and notorious in their discussion of the policy consequences of a Barrett confirmation.
Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), after accusing Trump of causing her husband’s COVID-19 infection, put it plainly: “The Affordable Care Act protects you from getting kicked off your insurance — that’s on the line.” Politically speaking, the most important performance was that of Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA). Or rather it could have been if it hadn’t turned out to be a flop. Not because she didn’t know her lines or sincerely emote about a sympathetically needy constituent child of indeterminate race and gender assignment. No, it was the form that killed the function for Democrats. The tech let all the air out of the room.
Can You Hear Me Now?
At first the vice presidential nominee couldn’t be seen, and her voice had a horrible echo. That was quickly fixed, but her sound quality remained JV rather than VP, throwing a wet blanket on the heat she was trying to generate. Harris did let the world know the possible consequences of this nomination, including the overturning of Obamacare and such horrors as requiring Americans to pay for their own birth control. Well, that’s apparently for a short time until contraception is likely banned.
Yes, those who expected attacks on Barrett’s Catholicism weren’t totally disappointed. Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) led the way here, suggesting that Barrett’s confirmation would likely lead to married couples losing the right to purchase birth control. He didn’t produce the name of a single elected official in the United States who has proposed advancing such a law, but, still, you have to demonize with what you have.
Judge Barrett read from a prepared statement, saying:
“I have been nominated to fill Justice Ginsburg’s seat, but no one will ever take her place. I will be forever grateful for the path she marked and the life she led.”
Direct questioning of the nominee starts Oct. 13 and is expected to continue until Oct. 14.
Read more from Scott D. Cosenza.