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Weekend Conversations: The Nomination of Amy Coney Barrett

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In this installment of Weekend Conversations, PF Whalen of The Blue State Conservative and Parker Beauregard of The Last Best Hope share their thoughts on the recent nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court and delve into the pending battles of the confirmation process.

PF: I like the pick very much, but admittedly I’m looking at it almost exclusively through the prism of politics.  I’ve heard a lot of pundits talk about Barrett’s “originalism” approach to the law, which I understand and appreciate, but I’m not a lawyer and essentially I just have to take their word for it.

It’s kind of sad that we have to look at everything politically now, but that is the world that we live in, I suppose. So, from that standpoint, I think it’s a brilliant move and one that should help out Trump and the GOP on Election Day. 

What’s most appealing politically about the pick is that Trump has now set the bait for Democrats. They can’t help themselves, as they showed with the Kavanaugh hearings, and now they will be forced to expose themselves by attacking someone who’s unassailable. It ought to be fun to watch.

Parker: As a Constitutionalist, I also like the pick. If you listened to her acceptance speech this afternoon, she referred to the fact that a judge’s role is to interpret the law as-is, not as they wish the laws were. That’s a great start. She won’t come to decisions based on her female Puerto Rican heritage, as Sonia Sotomayor suggested, or put social activist causes ahead of legal mandates, as did her predecessor.

I didn’t know much about her before today, except that her name has been floated since Trump took office. It is amazing and extremely fortuitous that she made it to the third round. After Justice Kavanaugh endured the despicable, baseless treatment in his nomination process, it is hard to see how Democrats oppose not only her as a pick, but her as person. Did you listen to her speak today? She’s a saint. She, not RBG, should be the exemplar all young girls aspire to emulate. She speaks of honesty, moral virtue, and family values. I don’t see how Democrats oppose her without coming off worse than with Kavanaugh, which I once thought would be impossible.

Leave it to Democrats to always find a way to make things worse.

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PF: I did listen to her speak, and she’s terrific. I also agree with your assessment that she should be invulnerable, but I don’t think that will stop the Democrats from attacking her. I think they will go after ACB with a similar intensity with which they went after Kavanaugh. The topics on which they go after her will be different, but they will be equally vicious. Any senator who treats ACB with respect and dignity will catch hellfire from the radical leftists in the party.   

Here’s what’s really sad – when it comes to any discussion on SCOTUS, everything boils down to one issue: abortion. It doesn’t matter to the Left what a nominee’s larger philosophy is, all they want to know is how he/she will rule on Roe V. Wade. If someone has the slightest potential of opposing it, the Left will attempt to destroy them. They view anyone opposing abortion-on-demand as a mortal enemy. 

Parker: I don’t know how any sane person looks at the degradation and simplistic reduction of a justice’s role by the left and find it to be improvement. You’re exactly right; if abortion is a target, or even feared to be a target, the gloves come off. 

I am open to a lot of ideas and discussion, and even willing to change my mind on several issues, but abortion is one area in which I have never found a moral, let alone even reasonable, justification. If abortion is a female’s right, do female fetuses not also have rights? Do aborted black lives matter? If Saint RBG said the Supreme Court should have nine women justices, shouldn’t ACB, by virtue of being a woman, be voted in 100-0? 

The argument that this is Merrick Garland 2.0 is also not worth exploring with sincerity. The Republicans controlled the Senate in 2016. What is different is that they now control the White House as well. That’s how this works. I like Ted Cruz’s presentation of the fact that we have seen an election-year vacancy 29 times, and in the previous 19 vacancies when a party controlled both the Executive Branch and the Senate, a Supreme Court nominee was seated 17 times. Pretty powerful stuff. The other 10 times occurred when competing parties each controlled a branch and just twice was a justice seated. So, what happened with Garland and now Barrett is not out of the ordinary.

PF: Cruz’ recap on the history of these types of nominations was a masterstroke. The media has mostly ignored it, but that’s what we’ve come to expect. It really underscores the political aspect of the whole process, though. It wasn’t that long ago when most Americans didn’t pay attention to SCOTUS, but now it seems to be on the radar of most everyone; and that is why this is such a big opportunity for the GOP.

One of President Trump’s key campaign issues was – and is – judicial appointments. Showcasing Amy Coney Barrett during politically charged Senate hearings a month before Election Day should be a nice boost for Republicans. But if Democrats take the bait and attack her like they did Kavanaugh two years ago, that boost becomes an electoral grand slam.  If independent voters go to the polls with fresh images of Richard Blumenthal and Mazie Hirono attacking ACB for being a good mother and Catholic/Christian, that can only help Republicans. 

Parker: I have been trying to stress this last point in every interaction with fence-sitting voters and conservative anti-Trumpers for years. Forget about his personal deficits (we all have them – his are just magnified by a cadre of spiteful elitists) and focus on his policy wins. If nothing else, his presidency has helped to reform the entire justice system. How many hundreds of as-the-law-is-written judges has he appointed in these three years, including a third Supreme Court selection? If nothing else, that should inspire voters across the nation that value objectivity, truth, fairness, and rule of law. 

I just keep going back to optics. There is just no way that Democrats come out of this looking good if they attack her, but can they resist? I don’t think they can. We have family members, coworkers, and certainly have all seen the inability of leftists on television that simply cannot set aside their arrogance and self-righteousness. Democratic politicians will attack her mercilessly, although it remains to be seen how much the charge of “she’s a racist because she adopted two Haitians” will stick. And that’s the best they’ve got!

PF: And it really is all about optics. The Left has already lost a tremendous amount of credibility with their double-standards for #MeToo. They said they believed every word from Christine Blasey Ford with zero evidence during the Kavanaugh hearings, and then scoffed at Tara Reade’s accusations against Joe Biden. If they launch unsubstantiated, personal attacks against ACB – which they are almost certain to do – their narrative that they are the party that supports women takes another, major hit. Go for it Democrats.

The other dynamic at play where optics are important is the idea of “packing the courts.” Trump tried to hit that topic hard at the debate on Tuesday, which was good, and he needs to keep hammering at it. When ACB comes out of the hearings looking like a reasonable and brilliant future Supreme Court Justice, the idea of increasing the number of SCOTUS seats will look even more outrageous.

Parker: It is hard, but unfortunately not impossible, to see how a person walks away from both the nomination and confirmation process without recognizing the humanity, grace, reasonableness, and impartiality possessed by ACB. Our entire system, the best the world has ever seen, is predicated on impartiality and rule of law. However, to suggest that nowadays is to expose one’s white supremacist underpinnings. We live in scary times that this narrative is so widespread. 

It really goes back to issues like abortion; why can’t states decide this? Why can’t states decide everything not explicitly outlined in the one of the great charters of human history? Gay marriage, civil rights for transgendered folk, and healthcare are just some recent examples where, through an inability to pass legislation that meets needs, the leftist majority of the Supreme Court was able to shift the entire political and cultural landscape. This wasn’t how the system was envisioned.

ACB represents a threat to the very notion of republicanism and decentralization to these people. It’s what this is all about. In a word: Power. The left wants it, period, whereas the right wants it determined at the most local level possible. A conservative Supreme Court majority, by adhering to Constitutional principles, can return the locus of power and control to local and state governments, and for an entity that thrives and relies on strong-arming individual citizens, this portends a significant roadblock.