Sen. Amy Klobuchar cornered her nicely, though. She refused to define what she meant by "virtuous," and also claimed Congress didn't have the right to protect the vote.
October 13, 2020

Senator Amy Klobuchar's prosecutorial chops really shone through today in her questioning of Amy Coney Barrett. The senator's sweet story of "following the tracks" left by deer and elk in the snowy woods as a kid with her mom turned to a stony line of questioning, wherein she icily promised to "follow the tracks" left by Barrett, who was steadfastly refusing to answer any question posed by Democrats about her publicly stated legal opinions. So, Sen. Klobuchar laid out the "tracks:"

Track 1: She considers Scalia - most conservative judge in SCOTUS history — her mentor.
Track 2: She criticized Justice Roberts' decision upholding the ACA.
Track 3: She stated Justice Scalia had the better legal argument than Roberts in that case.
Track 4: She signed her name to an aid calling to the end of "the barbaric legacy of Roe v. Wade."
Track 5: She disagreed with the precedent that said felons shouldn't be able to get guns.
Track 6: She disagreed with SCOTUS granting marriage equality. She said it was for the states to decide.

Those are A LOT of tracks to follow, and clearly Sen. Klobuchar was sick of this nightmare radical Catholic's refusal to stand by or expound on any of her own publicly stated legal opinions. Then, she turned to voting rights, and this moment was quite special. First, she got Barrett to admit that she had no idea in how many states voting was already happening. Sen. Klobuchar even gave her a little hint to remind her: one of her colleagues had mentioned it already! But did she know? NOPE. NO IDEA. So, Barrett is either:

  • incredibly uninformed about what is happening in the mechanics of the current election around the country (not good, given she knows Trump is counting on the election going to the Supreme Court,)
  • incredibly cavalier about this sham process to the degree that she is not paying the slightest bit of attention to what the Senators are saying to her.
  • lying her handmaiden's ass off about knowing how many states have begun the voting process.

Then, Sen. Klobuchar forced her hand on her extremely limited views on voting rights. Barrett thinks only certain types of people should have them, and Sen. Klobuchar helped her make that clear.

SEN. KLOBUCHAR: Beyond this immediate election, I want to turn to the Supreme Court's critical role when it comes to the right to vote. This area where Justice Ginsburg was such a champion. Senator Durbin went over your dissent after length in Cantor v. Barr, where you drew a distinction between individual rights and civic rights, and you wrote that historically, felons should be disqualified from exercising certain rights, like the right to vote and to serve on juries. So my question is this. Actually it's this next line where you said these rights belonged only to virtuous citizens. What does that mean?

BARRETT: Senator, I would need to look at the article to clarify but as I'm sitting here I don't think I said felons should lose voting rights. I think what I was talking about is -

SEN. KLOBUCHAR: "Could." But It wasn't an article just to be clear. Right? This is your dissent.

BARRETT: Sorry. My dissent.

SEN. KLOBUCHAR: Yeah. Your dissent in Cantor v. --

BARRETT: Yes, you are right.

SEN. KLOBUCHAR: And it says felons can be disqualified from exercising certain rights, like the right to vote and serve on juries, but apart from that clause, you said these rights belong only to virtuous citizens. That's what I'm trying to understand, what that means.

BARRETT: So the argument in the case, those who were challenging Heller, and those who are arguing on the side of the government in the Cantor case is that the second amendment is a civic right. And that is how the Supreme Court itself framed the debate. As a distinction between civic rights and individual rights with voting being a civic right, in literature, in the historical literature at play in that case --

SEN. KLOBUCHAR: but how would you define the word virtuous? Because it doesn't appear in the Constitution. I'm just trying to know what that means. We're living at a time in our lives when people are having their voting rights taken away from them. So, what's "virtuous?"

BARRETT: I want to be clear that is not in the opinion designed to denigrate the right to vote, which is fundamental. The distinction between civic and individual rights is one that's present in the court's decisions and it has to do with a jurisprudential view of what rights are. And the virtuous citizenry idea is a historical and jurisprudential one and certainly does not mean I think that anybody gets a measure of virtue and whether they're good or not and whether they're allowed to vote. That's not what I said.

In my layperson's search, the only thing I could find having to do "virtuous citizens" and legal jurisprudence is from Jefferson, and the notion that the citizenry must be sufficiently educated in order to conduct itself in a virtuous manner, and keep the republic afloat. We also know what types of people our founders considered eligible for the sort of education required for virtuous citizenry. Barrett doesn't seem to think felons fit that bill, does she?

Then Sen. Klobuchar asked simply, "Under our constitutional structure congress holds the lead rein in making the right to vote equally real for all U.S. Citizens. Do you agree with her conclusion that the constitution clearly empowers Congress to protect the right to vote?"

Barrett answered, "Well, Senator, that would be eliciting an opinion from me whether they were right in Shelby County, and I can't express a view on that because it would be inconsistent with the judicial role."

So the answer is "No." Amy Coney Barrett doesn't believe felons have the right to vote, nor does she believe Congress has the power to protect the right to vote. Remember, though...felons DO have the right to buy guns, and Barrett is A-Okay with that. Sen. Klobuchar brought out that hypocrisy perfectly, saying, "So here's my problem. You go out of your way in the case that Dick Durbin was discussing to make this distinction between voting rights and gun rights but now you won't say whether or not you agree with Ginsburg."

And check out this devastating line of questioning, during which Sen. Klobuchar laid out all the constitutional and legal reasons voter intimidation was against the law, and asked Barrett if she agreed. Would you like to know if Amy Coney Barrett thinks voter intimidation is illegal? So would we. But she refused to say.


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