On Monday, day one of the Supreme Court confirmation hearing for Judge Amy Coney Barrett took place in the Senate. Instead of being about the judicial philosophy and qualifications of Judge Barret, the Democrats turned the proceedings into a bad infomercial for Obamacare.
That’s right, Obamacare. The implication is that, if ACB is confirmed to the court, she will vote to strike down the law. Of course, Democrats, or anyone else for that matter, have no idea if that is what she would rule, but that didn’t stop them from making the wild claim, insisting that Americans would die because of that ruling…or something like that.
Judge Barret disagreed—correctly—with Chief Justice John Robert’s legal rationale for upholding Obamacare. At the time, he wrote in his majority opinion that the individual mandate was a “tax” and not a fine, which was one of the all-time greatest examples of legal/mental gymnastics dismounts in the history of American jurisprudence.
Giant photos of Americans with severe health conditions were placed behind the Democrat senators as they delivered their opening statements. The props were meant to tug on the emotional heartstrings of Americans and to get them to turn on Judge Barrett. It was a bizarre scene that is likely not going to have the effect that they intend.
The Democrats can play all the games they want, but they know that Coney Barrett will be confirmed to the high court eventually, so they are using the nationally televised hearings to push a message that they think will get their own people to the polls. This is about voter turnout. They want to fire up their base, which constantly lists health care as one of its top issues. By playing up those fears by putting Obamacare in the spotlight, they are hoping to motivate them to vote.
Honestly, the day’s proceedings were bland and lacked the fireworks of the Brett Kavanaugh hearings from two years ago—and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The Democrats may have actually learned that personal attacks like those lobbed at Kavanaugh don’t resonate with the American people and in fact are counterproductive, as evidenced by the Republicans’ retention of the Senate in 2018 following the travesty that was the Kavanaugh hearings.
Noticeably absent were attacks on Barrett’s Catholic faith like those lobbed at her by the likes of Senator Dianne Feinstein in 2017. There were a few veiled references, but nothing as appalling as when Feinstein told Judge Barrett that the “dogma was strong in her.”
The Republicans spoke highly of Barrett and highlighted her impressive legal credentials and intelligence. Overall, it was kind of a milquetoast day for them, but they still have the next three days to turn the tables on the Democrats and expose them for their political pandering.
Obamacare is a policy debate, not a legal one. The Democrats preyed on the fear of voters and didn’t discuss the legal reasoning behind Obamacare. Supreme Court hearings are supposed to be about evaluating the judge and discussing legal reasoning, not about electoral politics. But of course, that is a naïve statement on my part. Everything is about politics now…literally everything. (See sports and mask-wearing, for example).
Predictably, a couple of Democrat Senators used the coronavirus to make the case that the confirmation hearings shouldn’t take place.
Kamala Harris, taking a break from the campaign trail, pulled this stunt. Joe Biden’s running mate said, “This hearing has brought together more than 50 people to sit inside of a closed-door room for hours while our nation is facing a deadly airborne virus.”
Failed presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar also pushed this absurd talking point and then pivoted back to Obamacare when she said, “This judicial nominee has made her views so clear, and this president is trying to put her in a position of power to make decisions about your lives. The Affordable Care Act protects you from getting kicked off your insurance. That’s on the line.”
It is hard to imagine that the Democrats achieved their objective of scaring voters today. Many Americans who were paying attention probably didn’t pay attention for too long. It was a five-hour snooze-fest.
We will see what the rest of the week holds, but if we have learned anything from past experience, it’s that there is never a low that the Democrats aren’t willing to stoop to.
They still have time to drag this thing into the gutter. But will they? The next few days will be very telling.