Amy Coney Barrett, the Hypocritical Bigotry of “Originalism,” and Democratic Complicity

We all had an idea of what to expect from Amy Coney Barrett’s senate hearing. She’s a radically conservative cult member and a protege of Antonin Scalia, and was picked by Trump at the behest of the Federalist Society, all of which guaranteed, before anyone knew anything else about her, her extreme regressive scumbag credentials. We knew beforehand that the rush to force her onto the court would be done with the intention of, among other things, overturning the Roe v. Wade decision and dismantling the ACA, and we knew that like every other scumbag apointee to the court before her, she’d be cagey as fuck and waste everyone’s time with non-answers about her thoughts on either. We can expect Barrett to lead the radical right-wing majority in future attacks on women’s rights and healthcare, but on many other terrifying issues as well.

Much of what Barrett said, or refused to say, should have led to her immediate disqualification.

Barrett refused to answer many questions on the dubious grounds that they are contentious issues that she may have to end up ruling on related cases in the future, relying on the bullshit precedent set by prospective justices before her, as if there’s some rule against being honest and saying anything that might be considered a “spoiler.” But going beyond refusing to answer anything that might have anything to do with any future case, she refused to comment even on known facts and established laws. She wouldn’t say whether she believed that climate change is real, citing it as a contentious political issue; it is not, except to the extent that hack politicians, on behalf of capital interests, make it one: we are in the midst of a human-caused climate disaster. But even on easier plain legal questions, like whether voter intimidation is illegal (it is), or if a president can unilaterally delay an election (he can’t), or if the Constitution requires a peaceful transfer of power from the president who’s been defeated and/or ended their term(s) to their successor (it does), she refused to answer. When asked if she agreed with her scumbag mentor Antonin Scalia’s opinion that the Voting Rights Act was “a perpetuation of racial entitlement,” she refused to answer that too. In proceedings like these, when a nominee refuses to answer a question with an obvious correct answer, we can assume that their answer is the wrong one. She did at least agree with Cory Booker that White supremacy is bad. Though given her record and past statements, and every other indication that she is poised to be a weapon for White supremacist rule, we can surmise that that, one of the few questions she answered, was a lie.

Barrett also failed to display that she is intelligent, experienced, and takes the law seriously enough to be considered for the position. Even when Republican senators threw her softball questions, she fumbled. When asked by Trump’s ornery doormat, Ben Sasse, to name the five freedoms outlined in the first Amendment of the Constitution, Barrett stalled out at four. Granted, the average Joe Douchebag may struggle to name even three guaranteed freedoms, but Joe Douchebag isn’t about to be handed a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court. You’d think a sitting federal judge would be a little more familiar with the Constitution than Joe Douchebag. One would think that the presumptive shoo-in for a prestigious, lifetime appointment to a job whose central purpose is interpreting and deciding law, determining whether laws are constitutional, would be better prepared to answer simple questions about the fucking Constitution. There are people who have the whole thing memorized. The whole thing, and this anti-feminist Handmaid hasn’t made it past the first half of the pamphlet.

Maybe Barrett really takes being an “originalist” seriously, and so has only devoted study to the first ratified form of the Constitution, without ever having moved on to the Bill of Rights. Easy mistake. Though on the subject of “originalism,” if that is in fact the judicial philosophy that Barrett adheres to, then she should step down right now, because she knows for damn sure that the founders did not intend for a woman to ever be a Supreme Court Justice, or have any political power in this country. “Originalism” and “textualism,” different philosophies which have been so conflated that they are often treated as interchangeable, are of course faux-intellectual ruses covering for personal beliefs of racism, misogyny, and myriad other bigotries. Originalism means that you interpret the law as written in the Constitution as you presume it was intended by the founders who wrote and signed it. Textualism means that you interpret the law exactly as it is written, so theoretically without interpretation, only strict literalism, and without thought given to the intentions of those writing it, a narrow understanding of the law as written. In that matter of intention, there is obvious conflict between the two philosophies, but that doesn’t seem to matter to adherents of both or either because they are by and large hypocrites and bigots. Something the two judicial philosophies do have in common is that they ostensibly lead judges to make objective decisions, unrestrained by context or popular opinion.

Focusing on originalism, we can all agree that it is a load of horseshit and that its proponents, like Barrett, are hypocritical bigots. She is a hypocrite, first of all, for the aforementioned reason that she doesn’t acknowledge the fact that the great founders didn’t deem women worthy of even being mentioned in their Constitution, and that it was never their intention for women like her to have any status, let alone substantial legal power, under US law. One could argue that the 19th Amendment did something to remedy that, but it would be easier to argue that having the right to vote is not enough to elevate one’s rights to those of full personhood and that, since there is no article or amendment in the Constitution saying that women are, or that any and all sexes are, equal under the law, thanks to the Equal Rights Amendment never having been ratified by enough states to make it Constitutional law, and so they’re not, according to “originalist” thinking. Nor by “textualist” thinking, for that matter.

If one adheres to the Constitution strictly on the basis of its wording and the intentions of its authors, they must exclude women, but also people of color, everyone besides land-owning white men. To be a true “originalist” is to ignore all progress and modern context at the expense of the presumed beliefs of a small group of wealthy White male enslavers. Apart from being a bigoted approach, putting one’s full faith in, and treating as sacrosanct, the words of a gang of old crackers from hundreds of years ago, as though they had the answers to everything, from abortion to trans rights, when they lived at a time when no one knew of the existence of viruses or dinosaurs, is asinine. The knowledge and perspectives of the drafters of the Constitution were flawed and incomplete by definition, and anyone who claims otherwise is unqualified to exercise judicial power in modern context. But then, so-called “originalists” like Barrett can’t even remember that the founders framed the right of people to protest as a Constitutionally protected law.

Despite her dangerously radical right-wing beliefs and intentions and her lack of qualifications, Barrett will likely be quickly confirmed. Republicans are soulless monsters. They’ve spent years cheating and conniving to pack the courts with people like Barrett. They’re intent to undo every bit of what little social progress was made over the past century, and have all but succeeded with cheating their way to a radical-right Supreme Court majority. But they’re not alone in the blame.

I couldn’t count the number of times people cited RGB’s death and the rush for Barrett’s confirmation as being the reason we need to vote. As if that makes any fucking sense. Supreme Court justices are not voted for, and the majority of them have been appointed by presidents who lost the popular vote. And when the hurdles and handicaps of the electoral college, voter suppression, gerrymandering and every other undemocratic tactic are overcome, and we vote in more Democrats, what do they accomplish? The Democrats did nothing to fight this nomination or prevent the hearing from happening. The worst they did was make less-than-nice comments to the press and ask questions they knew Barrett wouldn’t answer. They didn’t fight at all. They played the game. Dianne Feinstein fucking thanked Lindsey Graham for running such a great hearing and gave the skeevy little bitch a big hug.

The Democratic senators did not fight and did nothing to stop injustice, because it serves them almost as much as it does the Republicans. In addition to being a nightmare for social justice, human rights, and any notion of democracy, Barrett is also radically pro-business, eager to rule in favor of capital and against the people, undo every environmental and worker protection for the sake of the profits of the wealthy few. Democrats might not be comfortable with the socially regressive stuff, but they’re all about the unfettered expansion of corporate power and wealth. That’s what their donors care about. Wealthy donors would accept a justice who hanged Black people, queer folk, and puppies all day, from weekends to office hours to evenings, so long as they also made it easier for them to do business and rake in profits unimpeded. And if their donors approve, then so do the establishment Democrats. Once again, they are allowing evil to triumph, and benefiting from it, and still playacting the role of the opposition, still pretending they’re the #resistance.