Sen. Kamala D. Harris was embarrassed for the second week in a row. First, it was her less-than-stellar performance in the debate with Vice President Mike Pence. Then, it was during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett. The hype over Ms. Harris is just that — hype.
Anyone watching Judge Barrett’s responses to often ridiculous questions earlier this week could see how brilliant she really is and how prepared she is to serve on the United States Supreme Court. And anyone watching Ms. Harris’ questions during the hearings could see how ill-prepared she was for the circumstances — much like her debate performance last week.
After lengthy political comments, Ms. Harris eventually got to a question. She finally asked: “Would you consider the 135 million people who gained protections under the Affordable Care Act when deciding a case that challenges that law?”
Judge Barrett calmly responded: “Senator Harris, if I were to be confirmed and conclude that I was able to sit on the case pursuant to the recusal statute, and then if I heard the case and decided the case, I would consider all the protections that Congress put in place. As I said earlier during this hearing, the question would be figuring out whether Congress, assuming that the mandate is unconstitutional now, whether that is consistent with your intent, this is Congress’s law, would permit this act to stand or whether the flawed portion of it could just be excised out.
“That is a question not of what judges want. It’s not a question of the Supreme Court. It’s a question of what Congress wanted in the statute. That is the statute that you enacted and extended this healthcare coverage to millions of Americans.”
As though she did not even listen to the answer, Ms. Harris went on to ask: “What weight would you give the fact that 135 million Americans with preexisting conditions are now depending on the protections of the Affordable Care Act? What weight would you give that?”
Again, Judge Barrett calmly responded: “Well, Ms. Harris, as I mentioned to Sen. Hirono, stare decisis takes reliance interests into account because as I’ve said before, stare decisis is about keeping stability in the law. So the law often takes into account reliance interests. I can’t really say sitting here how they would play in or weigh in this case, because that’s part of the legal calculus of the case. So I can’t really give you the kind of commitment or pre-commitment that you’re asking me of how I would weigh factors or how I would structure my decision-making process.”
For someone who repeatedly reminds us that she was a district attorney and an attorney general in the most populous state in the nation, you would think she’d be aware that a potential jurist answering a question about how they might rule is a violation of the rules governing the judiciary. Furthermore, the senator should know that Congress made the law and should have spelled out what they wanted in the federal statutes in a way that is constitutional. Judges — regardless of their own personal feelings or opinions — don’t make the laws, members of the legislative branch do.
Ms. Harris repeatedly reminded us that she was speaking during the debate a week ago. When she raised the issue of a trade war with China, Mr. Pence was ready: “Well, I’d love to respond. Look, lost the trade war with China? Joe Biden never fought it. Joe Biden has been a cheerleader for communist China over the last several decades. And again, Senator Harris, you’re entitled to your opinion. You’re not entitled to your own facts. When Joe Biden was vice president, we lost 200,000 manufacturing jobs.”
Even as Ms. Harris continually pointed out that she was speaking, she refused to actually answer whether she and former Vice President Joe Biden support packing the Supreme Court. Mr. Pence correctly called her out: “You know the people deserve a straight answer, and if you haven’t figured it out yet, the straight answer is they are going to pack the Supreme Court if they somehow win this election. Men and women, I got to tell you people across this country, if you cherish our Supreme Court, if you cherish the separation of powers, you need to reject the Biden-Harris ticket come November the third, reelect President Donald Trump, and we’ll stand by that separation powers in a nine seats Supreme Court.”
Ms. Harris was wrong during the debate last week and she was wrong again in the confirmation hearings this week. Yet again, the hype surrounding her was greater than the reality. Ms. Harris’ supporters said she would wipe out Mr. Pence because she was better at debating. Her supporters claimed she would take apart Judge Barrett because she was so adept at cross-examination. Truth is, she embarrassed herself, again.
• Scott Walker was the 45th governor of Wisconsin. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him @ScottWalker.
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