In the Service of a Fascist Rolling Coup—Reporting to Duty!

Three Simple Questions from the Confirmation Hearing of Amy Coney Barrett—Three Terrifying Responses



The Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court are now over and the Republi-fascist majority is barreling forward towards her confirmation. Barrett had a mask of “poise” and “rationality” that can’t conceal her yearning to turn back the clock several centuries, erasing rights and liberties that oppressed people have won through hard and often bloody struggle, aiming to enforce a Christian fascist future.

As these hearings made even clearer, seating her on the Court—giving the hard right a solid majority—will be extremely dangerous. Ramming through her appointment to the Supreme Court before the election is designed to ensure Trump’s drive to remain in power, no matter what, and accelerate the Christian fascist program... for decades to come.

Throughout the hearings, Barrett repeatedly declined to answer questions about her legal opinions on major questions of existing law. She hid her Christian fascist views about key issues and matters of law behind a “tradition” that has become a norm in these confirmation hearings—of nominees to the Supreme Court not giving legal opinions in advance of actual cases presented to the court. But what is revealing and alarming in this instance is that:

  • she refused to plainly and simply affirm existing law—NOT the application or interpretation of the law as it may apply to specific cases;
  • law that is already either directly in the Constitution or in federal statute (federal laws passed by Congress); and
  • law that may apply to key questions where violation of these existing laws is brazenly and routinely promoted by Donald Trump in his goal to stay in power, in his threats and acts to steal the election, in what Refuse Fascism has called a rolling coup.

Let’s start with three simple questions from Democratic senators... and Barrett’s terrifying responses.

Question One: Senator Amy Klobuchar asked: “Under federal law, is it illegal to intimidate voters at the polls?

Barrett’s response: “I can’t characterize the facts of 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 precedent, talking to colleagues, writing an opinion, and so I can’t answer questions like that.”

WRONG! This is a deceitful combination of legal double-talk, fake neutrality, and feigned ignorance.

Imagine a judge being asked, “is it illegal to rape children” and replying, “I can’t characterize the facts of a hypothetical situation”!

Klobuchar was not asking Barrett about a “hypothetical situation,” she was asking her about existing laws on voter intimidation. And it is impossible that a law professor and federal judge does not know what everyone else does: voter intimidation is illegal, period. Under 18 U.S. [Code §] 594 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 ... shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.”

Right now, Republi-fascists are recruiting what they call an “army” of 50,000 “poll watchers, with a focus on ex-military and ex-cops.1 So Klobuchar asked Barrett: “Do you think a reasonable person would be intimidated by the presence of armed civilian groups at the polls?”

Barrett’s Response: “It’s not something, really, that’s appropriate for me to comment on.”

It’s not? So a future Supreme Court Justice can’t take a position on whether rifle-toting militias at polling stations “observing” voters would be intimidating to anyone, especially people of color? Maybe she should have been asked if KKK cross burnings are intimidating.

Once again, Barrett is evading answering what should be a no-brainer for anyone, let alone a federal judge and law professor. In effect, Barrett is green-lighting voter intimidation.

Question Two: Senator Cory Booker asked: “Do you believe that every president should make a commitment, unequivocally and resolutely, to the peaceful transfer of power?”

Barrett’s response: “ Well, Senator, that seems to me to be pulling me in a little bit into this question of whether the president has said that he would not peacefully leave office, and so to the extent that this is a political controversy right now, as a judge, I want to stay out of it and I don’t want to express a view.”

WRONG! The 20th Amendment to the Constitution says: “The terms of the President and the Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January ... and the terms of their [elected] successors shall then begin.”

And guess what—there is no sub-clause or subsequent amendment that says “unless the sitting president doesn’t agree, and then he can use federal troops and armed militias to stay in office and crush anyone who protests,” which is what Trump is threatening to do. Barrett’s refusal to commit to upholding the “peaceful transfer of power” amounts to holding the door open for Trump/Pence to do exactly that.

Question Three: Senator Dianne Feinstein asked: “Does the Constitution give the president of the United States the authority to unilaterally delay a general election under any circumstances? Does federal law?”

Barrett’s response: “Well Senator, if that question ever came before me, I would need to hear arguments from the litigants and read briefs and consult with my law clerks and talk to my colleagues and go through the opinion-writing process” so as to approach matters “with an open mind.”

WRONG! Again, the Constitution—the highest law of the land, which Barrett claims she upholds—is quite clear: Article II, Section 1, Clause 4 says, “The Congress may determine the Time of chusing [sic] the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.” And Congress did this—in 1845, a federal law fixed the date as the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. Only Congress can change this.

Delaying or canceling the election is one way Trump has floated to avoid losing the election. That would be flagrantly illegal and amount to a fascist coup. Barrett’s refusal to recognize that is ominous.


1. Just one component of a multi-pronged drive to steal the election.  [back]

Amy Coney Barrett Hearings: Sunsara Taylor on the Ground in DC



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