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In our opinion: Amy Coney Barrett hearings highlight Congress’ failure

Congress has failed in its duty to craft effective compromise legislation on the most contentious issues of the day

Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett is sworn in for her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Monday, Oct. 12, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
AP

As confirmation hearings began this week for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, it seemed certain Americans would, with apologies to Shakespeare, be subject to a lot of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Actually, that’s not entirely true. The hearings will signify one important thing, and that is that Congress has failed in its duty to craft effective compromise legislation on the most contentious issues of the day.

白小姐一肖一码准选一码If a Democratic majority and Republican minority in both houses of Congress had worked hard to find a middle ground over contentious points in the Affordable Care Act a decade ago, both sides wouldn’t so eagerly look to the court to fix what they have refused to do. If either side had worked sincerely on immigration reform, the intersection of religious liberties and LGBTQ rights or a host of other issues, these hearings would not be so predictably overwrought.

白小姐一肖一码准选一码Unfortunately, ideologues in both parties find that demagoguery and intractable differences are good for fundraising. They rally voters on promises that their party, once in power, will ensure the appointment of Supreme Court justices needed to overturn this or that law they were unwilling to legislate effectively.

Expect the campaign against Barrett to focus on claims she would help overturn the Affordable Care Act or the abortion rights guaranteed in Roe v. Wade. Senators will labor to tease out of her clues as to how she would decide such cases. They will pontificate and play to voters at home.

Democrats on the Senate judiciary committee are likely to unearth Barrett’s previous decisions on cases or statements on issues in an attempt to undermine her legitimacy. There may be references to her Catholic faith, either veiled or blatant, despite the Constitution’s explicit wording that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

It would be inappropriate for Barrett to prejudge any issue that might come before the court. Her job is to consider the facts of each case against the law and the Constitution. Senators should concern themselves with her fitness to do this, nothing more.

Absent from the hearings and protests will be any historical context, or any attempt to match the overheated worries of past confirmation hearings with actual outcomes.

In 2005, pro-choice groups rallied against the confirmation of John G. Roberts, the current chief justice. NARAL Pro-Choice America briefly aired an ad that accused Roberts of filing court briefs in support of a convicted abortion clinic bomber, insinuating that he would excuse violence because of his ideology.

Yet Roberts recently authored the court’s decision striking down a Louisiana law that would have required doctors to obtain admitting rights at a local hospital before performing abortions.

白小姐一肖一码准选一码His reason was a legal term known as stare decisis, or the doctrine that the court should be bound by its own precedents. It’s a principle as important to many conservative jurists as judging cases against the original intent of the authors of a statute or the Constitution.

A majority of Republican-appointed justices has controlled the court for nearly a half century now, and yet Roe v. Wade still stands. Roberts authored a decision in 2012 that kept the Affordable Care Act alive. Such things are difficult to predict. Supreme Court appointments are for life, precisely because they should be above politics.

Elections, we are often reminded, have consequences. But those consequences ought to concern more than the future balance of the Supreme Court.

白小姐一肖一码准选一码Voters elect lawmakers to make tough decisions and to solve the most important issues of the day. If that was truly happening, Supreme Court confirmation hearings wouldn’t be such useless theater.