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Amy Coney Barrett
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UW assistant professor ‘a little disturbed’ by Barrett’s SCOTUS hearing answers

Judge Amy Coney Barrett during Senate confirmation hearings. (Getty Images)

Amy Coney Barrett is facing the Senate Judiciary Committee this week, and as with many nominees, it’s difficult to get a sense of the future legal implications of  her answers. Should the process be changed? Scott Lemieux, an assistant teaching professor in the department of political science at the University of Washington, joined Seattle’s Morning News to discuss.

Did Lemieux see anything about her testimony that struck him as particularly concerning or not in the spirit of the Supreme Court’s mission?

“I was a little disturbed when she said that she would not recuse herself if there was a case involving the presidential election. There was also an exchange with Senator Klobuchar, in which Senator Klobuchar asked her if it violated federal law to engage in voter intimidation, which President Trump has suggested on Twitter a couple of times, and has tried to encourage,” he said.

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“She essentially declined to answer, even after Senator Klobuchar read the statute that shows that it’s a federal offense to engage in voter intimidation. I don’t know what exactly that implies, but it’s a little disturbing that given it’s just a very narrow, factual question, she wasn’t even willing to go that far.”

A common feature of the proceedings is that nominees often never want to talk about how they might rule in the particular case, and prefer to say less than more.

“It’s a tricky question, it does concern me a little bit. And obviously this goes back to when Ronald Reagan nominated Robert Bork. He had an extensive history of writing both as a scholar and a public intellectual. He had written essays arguing the Civil Rights Act shouldn’t have been passed and giving a very narrow read of the First Amendment and that Roe should be overruled. As a result of those writings, he was voted down by a bipartisan majority. So since then, with a few exceptions, justices have just declined to more or less say anything about their views,” he said.

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“On the one hand, I understand judges not wanting to say how they will rule it in a future case. But on the other hand, there’s this weird two step where Republicans place an extremely high priority on judicial appointments, taking a fair amount of political risk by trying to get Judge Barrett confirmed at this late date. But as soon as the nomination process begins, Republicans just sort of deny that this nominee could possibly have the views that almost all the Republicans have on constitutional matters.”

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