During her confirmation hearing on Wednesday, Amy Coney Barrett served Senator Dick Durbin what was coming to him. He was trying to get her to convey a negative message about President Trump, and that’s where he went wrong.
“And so if I change Senator Feinstein’s question and did not ask you whether the president has the authority to delay a general election, and ask you does the president have the authority to unilaterally deny the right to vote to any person based on their race, what would your answer be?” Durbin asked.
In response, Barrett gave him a quick history lesson as she cited several law books as well as the Equal Protection Clause that prohibits racial discrimination. She didn’t forget to mention the 15th Amendment that protects people’s voting rights against racial discrimination.
Durbin, who looked as if he couldn’t keep up with Barrett, proceeded to read the 15th Amendment. “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of race.”
Durbin continued, “For an originalist and a textualist, that is clear text as I see it, but when asked whether or not the president has any authority to unilaterally deny that right to vote for a person based on race or even gender, are you saying you can’t answer that question?”
“I just referenced the 14th and 15th Amendments, the same one that you just repeated back to me, that do prohibit discrimination on the basis of race in voting. So as I said, I do not know how else I can say it, the Constitution contains provisions that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race in voting,” Barrett shot back.
“But whether the president can unilaterally deny, you cannot answer yes or no?” Durbin asked.
Barrett responded, “I really can’t say anything more, I’m not going to answer hypotheticals.”
“That strains originalism if the clear wording of the Constitution establishes a right and you will not acknowledge it,” Durbin continued.
“Well, Senator, it would strain the canons of conduct, which do not permit me to offer off-the-cuff reactions or any opinions outside of the judicial decision-making process,” Barrett said. “It would strain Article Three, which prevents me from deciding legal issues outside of the context of cases and controversies, and as Justice Ginsburg said, it would display disregard for the process.”
All of a sudden, Durbin changed the subject and said, “Let’s take it to the case we discussed before.”
Watch their exchange below:
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