Today is the fourth day of Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearing for her appointment to the United States Supreme Court, and the unfolding event is predictably viewed along partisan lines by prominent local Republicans and Democrats.
In interviews with the News-Press, the former expressed admiration for the nominee’s judicial qualifications and performance during the hearings, while the latter believe the hearings themselves are nothing short of a travesty.
Santa Barbara County Republican Party Chairwoman Bobbi McGinnis said she liked how Judge Barrett steered clear of stating opinions on certain cases by referencing late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s principle of not expressing “hints, forecasts, or previews” on legal precedent, should that precedent be applied to a future case she has to rule on.
Ms. McGinnis remarked that Judge Barrett “has handled herself very well” while fielding questions from Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, who she said were more respectful this time around than during the fraught confirmation process for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
However, the chairwoman did find the line of questioning from Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, inquiring about whether or not Judge Barrett had ever committed sexual harassment or assault “over the top.”
Local Republican and Coalition of Labor, Agriculture & Business executive director Andy Caldwell told the News-Press that Judge Barrett is “as eminently prominent” as Justice Ginsburg and deserving of “the same respect, courtesy, and the same near-unanimous, bi-partisan confirmation vote” that the late justice did when she was confirmed by the United States Senate in 1993.
Of course, Democrats are uniformly opposed to the confirmation of Judge Barrett, and Mr. Caldwell, who is also a News-Press columnist, accused them of screening Judge Barrett as if they were demanding she pass a “political litmus test” for an institution that is “supposed to be beyond partisan politics.”
For Santa Barbara Democrats, the outrage is that Judge Barrett has been nominated at all, let alone going through a confirmation hearing.
Sen. Hannah Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, told the News-Press that the hearing is in the “theater of the absurd,” and said the nomination going forward is hypocritical considering Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s comments against nominating a Supreme Court Justice in an election year when President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland to fill the vacant seat left by Justice Antonin Scalia’s in 2016.
Sen. Jackson stated that all the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee are trying to do now is uncover what Judge Barrett intends to do if confirmed to the Supreme Court.
“The Democrats’ goal is to confirm what we all know, and that is she is going to vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, going to vote to overturn the Affordable Care Act,” the senator remarked.
Sen. Jackson also criticized Judge Barrett for not answering questions on how she might rule in certain cases when she has already made her opinions on certain issues clear.
“Clearly, her leanings, her decisions, her personal opinions are far to the extreme of the American people,” she said.
California Democratic Party Region 10 director and Santa Barbara County Democratic Central Committee south vice chair David Atkins also characterized Judge Barrett’s personal views as extreme and took issue with the Supreme Court nominee not answering questions about her opinions on certain cases.
“(Judge) Barrett is avoiding and dodging every question, pretending that she’s never thought about any of these issues in her life,” he said.
Mr. Atkins added, “The Constitution-in-exile originalists would like to repeal the last 100 years of progress and (Judge) Barrett is one of them.”