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Politics, procedures again gunk up the Supreme Court

Politics, procedures again gunk up the Supreme Court

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Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., arrive Wednesday for the third day of confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington.

As the United States heads toward installing another Supreme Court justice it occurs to me how laughable and bizarre this constitutional rite has become:

Consider:

• The confirmation hearings for Amy Coney Barrett began with 4 hours of opening statements from the 22 members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. That’s more than 10 minutes for each one. There’s 4 hours they’ll never get back. What a waste of time. Senators: You are there to question the nominee, not make speeches.

• Democrats are furious that if Barrett is confirmed that it will leave the court with a 6-3 conservative edge. Right. Do they expect us to believe that if there was a 6-3 liberal edge and one of the conservatives left that the Democrats would argue for a conservative replacement for balance? Not happening, guys.

• And if Joe Biden wins the presidential election and conservative Clarence Thomas retires 6 weeks before the 2024 election (I know, this scenario is a bit far-fetched) are the Dems going to say let the next president make the pick? No, they are going with the Republican playbook.

• Plus, these nominees sometimes morph after spending time on the court. Anthony Kennedy, David Souter and even current Chief Justice John Roberts have been involved in rulings that belied their “conservative slot.”

• Some of the questions the nominees are asked are comical. Or worse. In the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings Democrat Dick Durbin asked the nominee if he believed in “Democratic institutions.” Are you kidding me? Democrat Dianne Feinstein, meanwhile, fricasseed Barrett for not saying how she might vote if the Roe vs. Wade abortion decision comes back before the court. No nominee has answered that question since before Antonin Scalia. Why should Barrett take the plunge? Do you think Durbin and Feinstein were trying to make Republican nominees look bad? Of course.

• Speaking of Feinstein … she was pilloried by her own party for hugging Republican Chairman Lindsey Graham and praising him for how he conducted the hearings. That’s the old collegial spirit, Dems! Throw the bum out!

• Most offensive of all during the Barrett hearings was the undercurrent that somehow President Trump cut some sort of deal with Barrett, as in, I nominate you and you then back me up if the election winds up in the courts. What an appalling notion. We may not always agree on these Supreme Court nominees or their eventual decisions, but I prefer to think that our court nominees are not capable of such crude bribery.

• The Supreme Court used to be about nominating and installing a qualified judge and then trusting that person and the rest of the justices to do the best they can. Now, it’s all about party loyalty and making political points. It’s shameful.

Contact reporter James Day at jim.day@lee.net or 541-812-6116. Follow at Twitter.com/jameshday or gazettetimes.com/blogs/jim-day.

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