More Obfuscation: Barrett Avoided Answering Senators’ Follow-up Questions for the Record
Of Senators’ 435 Questions, Barrett Avoided Answering Whether the Constitution Guarantees Birthright Citizenship, Whether a President May Unilaterally Delay an Election, and Whether There Were Racial Disparities in the Criminal Justice System
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Last night, less than 36 hours before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to consider a vote on her nomination, President Trump’s Supreme Court pick Amy Coney Barrett submitted responses to senators’ questions for the record. In her answers, Barrett continued to avoid substantively responding to senators’ important questions — staying in line with her disappointing performance of ducking and dodging questions during last week’s confirmation hearings.
“Barrett’s abject failure to provide even remotely informative answers to important questions from the senators who are tasked with evaluating her for a lifetime appointment is an astounding dereliction of duty and an offense to the American people,” said Kyle Herrig, president of government watchdog Accountable.US. “While enlightening information about Barrett’s record continue to trickle out from independent sources, Barrett’s purposeful evasion of meaningful inquiries into her history and her unwillingness to provide documents from her career as a professor at Notre Dame are setting alarms ablaze.”
From the materials submitted to the Judiciary Committee, here are some important numbers to take away:
- 11: The number of senators who submitted questions for the record to Barrett following last week’s hearings
- 435: The number of questions to which Barrett was asked to provide answers for the record.
- 105: The number of times Barrett said she could not opine on relevant questions the senators asked of her.
- 63: The number of times Barrett said it would not be appropriate for her to offer her stance on the question.
- 254: The number of times Barrett referred to already provided responses.
Just today, reporting in The Root shed light on a case from Barrett’s time on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in which she decided that a police officer who contributed to the death of a Black teenager in 2015 deserved protection from liability in the boy’s death in what was called a “radical departure” of case law. This in addition to the discovery of a case in which Barrett sided for the rescission of damages to a pregnant teenager who was repeatedly sexually assaulted by a prison guard.
Here is a sampling of Barrett’s non-answers in her questions for the record:
Barrett Refused To Answer Whether The Constitution Guarantees Birthright Citizenship. “[LEAHY:] Under an originalist’s interpretation, does the Constitution guarantee birthright citizenship? [BARRETT:] The Fourteenth Amendment provides, inter alia, that ‘[a]ll persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.’ Because the meaning of this provision is the subject of ongoing litigation, it would be improper for me as a sitting judge to opine on it.”
In Response To A Question Asking What The Constitution Requires That A President Do Prior To Receiving An Emolument, Barrett Responded That It Would Be Improper For Her To Opine On The Matter. “What does the Constitution require that a president do prior to receiving an emolument? […] RESPONSE: Because this question asks about matters that are the subject of ongoing litigation, it would be improper for me as a sitting judge and as a judicial nominee to opine on it.”
Barrett Did Not Answer When Asked If She Would Recuse Herself From A Dispute Over Trump’s Election, Despite Supreme Court Precedent That Would Apply Directly To Her If She Were Confirmed And If Trump’s Election Were Disputed In The Supreme Court. “[WHITEHOUSE:] In Caperton v. A. T. Massey Coal Co., 556 U.S. 868 (2009), the Supreme Court stated that the Due Process Clause of the Constitution requires a judge to recuse herself ‘when a person with a personal stake in a particular case had a significant and disproportionate influence in placing the judge on the case . . . when the case was pending or imminent. […] Do you agree President Trump would have ‘a personal stake’ in an election dispute over his reelection campaign? [BARRETT:] As a sitting judge and as a judicial nominee, it would not be appropriate for me to offer an opinion on abstract legal issues or hypotheticals. Such questions can only be answered through the judicial process.”
When Asked Whether a President May Unilaterally Delay a General Election, Barrett Responded: “As a sitting judge and as a judicial nominee, it would not be appropriate for me to offer an opinion on abstract legal issues or hypotheticals. Such questions can only be answered through the judicial process.”
Barrett Refused To Answer A Broad Philosophical Question Asking If She Agreed With Sen. Mike Lee’s Claim That “Democracy Isn’t The Objective” Of The American Constitutional System. “[WHITEHOUSE:] Do you agree with Senator Lee that ‘[d]emocracy isn’t the objective’ of the American constitutional system, ‘liberty, peace, and prosperity are’? [BARRETT:] It would be inappropriate for me, as a sitting judge and as a judicial nominee, to opine on the statements of any political figure or on any subject of political controversy.”
When Asked If The Once-Constitutional Practices Of Executing Minors And Mentally Disabled People Was Consistent With Her Originalist Perspective, Barrett Refused To Answer, Saying She Wouldn’t “Grade’ Or Give A ‘Thumbs-Up Or Thumbs-Down’ To Particular Cases.” “]COONS:] Applying Trop’s evolving standard, the Court has prohibited practices once thought to be constitutional, such as the execution of minors and the execution of individuals with intellectual disabilities […] Is that standard consistent with your originalist judicial philosophy? [BARRETT:] It would not be appropriate for me to opine on this question; as Justice Kagan explained, it is not appropriate for a judicial nominee to ‘grade’ or give a ‘thumbs-up or thumbs-down’ to particular cases.”
Barrett Repeatedly Refused To Answer A Basic Question About Whether Or Not Climate Change Even Exists. In response to several questions from senators on the basic facts of climate change, Barrett wrote, “My views on the subject are not relevant to my job as a judge. Furthermore, the Supreme Court has described ‘climate change’ as a ‘controversial subject’ and “sensitive political topic.’ Janus v. AFSCME, Council, 138 S. Ct. 2448, 2476 (2018). It would be inappropriate for me, as a sitting judge and as a judicial nominee, to opine further on any subject of political controversy.”
Said She Could Not Comment as a Sitting Judge on Racial Disparities in the Criminal Justice System. “Any racial disparities in the criminal justice system merit close attention. But as racial disparities may be the subject of litigation, it would be improper for me as a sitting judge to opine further on this issue.”