WASHINGTON – Today at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing to consider President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court , U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) questioned Judge Amy Coney Barrett about the real world impact that her approach to the law, including her views on voting rights and the Affordable Care Act, could have on the American people if she is confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice.
Senator Klobuchar also renewed her call to the American people to continue to raise their voices against President Trump and the Republicans as they try to ram through a Justice to the nation’s highest court in the middle of an ongoing pandemic and with an election 21 days away.
“We need a reset here in my mind, for the people at home, a bit of a reality check that this isn’t normal right now.
“We have to understand what people are dealing with—that 7.7 million people have gotten this virus. That 214,000 Americans have died. And for people watching at home and wondering what we are all doing in this room right now, and maybe you are home because you lost your job or maybe you’ve got your kids crawling all over your couch right now, maybe you are trying to teach your first grader how to do a mute button to go to school, or maybe you have a small business that you had to close down or that is struggling.
“We should be doing something else right now. We should not be doing this. We should be passing coronavirus relief like the House just did, which was a significant bill that would have been a big help, and I think people have to know that right now, whether you are a Democrat, Independent, or Republican. And that is why I started out yesterday by telling people that they need to vote.
“Number two, some of my colleagues throughout this hearing on the other side have been kind of portraying the job, that the judge is before us on, as being some kind of ivory tower exercise. I think one of my friends related that you would be dealing with the Dormant Commerce Clause. Well I’m sure that might be true, but we also know this is the highest court in the land and that the decisions of this court have a real impact on people...
“But you said you would not let your views influence you and the like, but the truth is the Supreme Court rulings, they rule people's lives. They decide if people can get married, they decide what schools they can go to, they decide if they can have access to contraception. All of these things matter. So I want to make that clear.
“And the third reset here that I think we need to have, is that this hearing is not normal. It is a sham. It is a rush to put in a Justice. The last time that we had a vacancy so close to an election was when Abraham Lincoln was president and he made the wise decision to wait until after the election. The last time we lost a Justice so close to an election, that is what he did.”
Senator Klobuchar also questioned Judge Barrett about voting rights. Judge Barrett would not say if voter intimidation is illegal. Watch the clip HERE.
Senator Klobuchar: “Okay last week, a contractor from outside of my state of Minnesota started recruiting poll watchers with special forces experience to protect polling locations in my state. This was clear voter intimidation. Similar efforts are going on around the country, solicited by President Trump’s false claims of massive voter fraud, something that by the way, many Republican leaders, including Michael Steele, the former head of the Republican Party, including Tom Ridge, including Governor Kasich, including sitting Senator Romney, have made very clear is not true. So as a result of his claims, people are trying to get poll watchers, special forces people, to go to the polls. Judge Barrett, under federal law, is it illegal to intimidate voters at the polls?”
Judge Barrett: “Senator Klobuchar, I cannot characterize the facts in a hypothetical situation and I can’t apply the law to a hypothetical set of facts. I can only decide cases as they come to me litigated by parties on a full record after fully engaging the precedent, talking to colleagues, writing an opinion. And so I can’t answer questions like that.”
Senator Klobuchar: “I’ll make it easier. 18 U.S.C. 594 outlaws anyone who intimidates, threatens, coerces, or attempts to intimidate, threaten or coerce, any other person for the purpose of interfering with the right of such other person to vote. This is a law that has been on the books for decades. Do you think a reasonable person would feel intimidated by the presence of armed civilian groups at the polls?”
Judge Barrett: “Senator Klobuchar, you know, that is eliciting -- I am not sure to say whether that is eliciting a legal opinion from me because the reasonable person’s standard as you know is one common in the law, or just an opinion as a citizen, but it’s not something really that is appropriate for me to comment on.”
Sen. Klobuchar: “Okay. Here is one that I think is — the selection of electoral college electors. You know that each state has laws that dictate how electoral college electors are selected. Judge Barrett, in 1932, the Supreme Court in Smiley v. Holm, a case involving my state, ruled that the Minnesota state legislature could not change election rules unilaterally. Do you agree that the unanimous opinion in Smiley v. Holm, which has never been questioned by any other Supreme Court case, is settled law?”
Judge Barrett: “I will say two things about that. First of all, I was not aware of that case, so you have taught me something, but secondly I cannot comment on the precedent, give a thumbs up or down, in Justice Kagan’s words.”
Klobuchar is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over Supreme Court nominations. Prior to her time in the Senate, Klobuchar served as Hennepin County Attorney.
On the opening day of the Supreme Court confirmation hearings, Klobuchar delivered her opening statement, calling on the American people to continue to vote and raise their voices against this nominee that President Trump and the Republicans are trying to ram through in a sham hearing.
Last month, Klobuchar gave remarks from the Senate Floor highlighting the risk of overturning the Affordable Care Act during the pandemic.
Also in September, in an exchange at the Senate Judiciary Committee, Klobuchar urged her colleagues to hold consideration of a new Supreme Court nominee until after the election in response to remarks from Senator Ted Cruz.