With the opening statements and the grandstanding now over, today the nomination hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett to replace the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court begin in earnest, as members of the Senate Judiciary Committee launch into their questioning. Supreme Court confirmation hearings have become a high-level version of dodgeball, where nominees work tirelessly to evince no opinion on any legal matter whatsoever, using the excuse that the topic might come up before the Court in the future, and the nominee wouldn’t want to prejudge any decision.
In this case, both Barrett’s record and the entire process can be prejudged. Though she only has three years on the federal bench, Barrett has nearly two decades’ worth of law review writing from her time as a professor at Notre Dame. Everyone knows she has been installed to deliver victories on long-sought, ideologically conservative priorities, from eliminating the right to choose an abortion to the overturning of a century of labor law jurisprudence. And everyone knows conservative senators will vote in lockstep to get Barrett on the Court to commence this work. The only drama lies in whether enough of them are actually available to complete the task before the general election.
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Still, I subscribe to the school of thought that what a judicial nominee believes actually matters when confirming them to the highest court in the land. And even Barrett’s short stint as a judge has yielded a number of revealing opinions that all point to a general bias. As the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law puts it in a report released today on the Barrett record, “she is predisposed to side with law enforcement at the expense of defendants’ constitutional rights, and with employers and business interests in disputes with