Analysis: Amy Coney Barrett’s hearing kicks off with hypocrisy and healthcare
That was rich. Senate Republicans, otherwise known as Donald Trump’s Praetorian Guard, lined up on Monday to pay pious homage to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the separation of powers and the halcyon days of political bipartisanship.
A visitor from outer space might have thought that they were the upholders of civics and civility at the start of Amy Coney Barrett’s supreme court hearing on Capitol Hill. No matter that Trump has played divider-in-chief or that Republicans blocked Barack Obama’s nominee to the court in 2016.
It was a morning of hypocrisy and healthcare.
Lindsey Graham, chairman of the Senate judiciary committee and the Trump appreciation society, reminded everyone that both Ginsburg and her ideological opposite, Justice Antonin Scalia, were confirmed almost unanimously.
“I don’t know what happened between then and now,” he said, wistfully. “We can all take some blame but I just want to remind everybody there was a time in this country where someone like Ruth Bader Ginsburg was seen by almost everybody as qualified for the position of being on the supreme court, understanding that she would have a different philosophy than many of the Republicans who voted for her.”
No justice has been confirmed so close to a presidential election. Graham, who promised not to confirm one in an election year (saying “Use my words against me”, which plenty of Democrats are), acknowledged a point everyone could agree on: “This is going to be a long, contentious week.”
As senator after senator drew their battle lines, 48-year-old Barrett, sitting silently in a big black face mask, resembled a prisoner in the dock.
Republicans sought to normalise her rushed nomination, arguing the Senate was merely doing its duty while setting up straw men: Democrats want to attack her Catholic faith (none did), Democrats want to play foul as they did with Brett Kavanaugh (hardly), Democrats want to expand the court (objection: relevance), Democrats want to conflate the judiciary with policy (true).