Amy Coney Barrett dodges the issue of climate change

By the end of today, Amy Coney Barrett’s hearing will be over, and she’ll be on the fast track to confirmation as a Supreme Court Justice. Like most such candidates, she dodged questions about how she’d rule in various cases or in various circumstances. But she also dodged questions about scientific fact—in particular, about climate change. But that doesn’t matter, so long as she doesn’t espouse something as dumb as a flat Earth.  Wait, I take that back: she could have said that the question of the Earth’s shape is unsettled, and she’d still get confirmed.

No, it doesn’t matter if she denies the scientific consensus, for that’s the GOP’s position about climate change, and that, more than anything, tells you about the ideological and political nature of this judge. People have said that we should ignore her religious beliefs, and she’s averred that they won’t affect her rulings. Does anybody really believe that? I don’t. How can her beliefs about what is right and wrong not play a role in her decisions?

Below you see her refusing to answer a question from Kamala Harris about global warming—”Do you believe that climate change is happening and it’s threatening the air we breathe and the water we drink?” This is after Barrett already agreed that smoking causes lung cancer and the coronavirus was infectious.

But when it comes to anthropogenic climate change, Barrett won’t sign on. The GOP is waffle-y about climate change, but not about lung cancer or infectious disease. As a New York Times article reports, Barrett sees a big difference between scientific evidence for infectious disease and nearly as convincing evidence for global warming. She calls the latter not a question of science, but a question of “public policy”:

Judge Barrett responded, “You asked me uncontroversial questions, like Covid-19 being infectious or if smoking causes cancer” to solicit “an opinion from me on a very contentious matter of public debate,” climate change.

“I will not do that,” Judge Barrett concluded. “I will not express a view on a matter of public policy, especially one that is politically controversial.”

Here’s her testimony, as well as some questioning by Corey Booker and an embarrassing endorsement from Lindsey Graham.

I only wish someone would have asked her about evolution. Is that something she’d agree is scientifically settled, and not a “matter of public policy”? Why do they always forget to ask about evolution? After all, Barrett is a conservative Christian, and may well not accept it. Shouldn’t that be out there on the public record? Although 40% of Americans are Biblical young-Earth creationists, nothing brands someone as ignorant so much as denying evolution.

Greta Thunberg got it right:

Greta Thunberg, the young Swedish climate activist, took to Twitter to quip, “To be fair, I don’t have any ‘views on climate change’ either. Just like I don’t have any ‘views’ on gravity, the fact that the earth is round, photosynthesis nor evolution.”

“But,” she continued, “understanding and knowing their existence really makes life in the 21st century so much easier.”

This wasn’t the first time that Barrett wouldn’t commit herself to accepting science. As the article notes:

Michael Gerrard, the founder of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University Law School, said her “non-answer on global warming” does not necessarily put her in the climate denial camp; it could have been “reflexive stonewalling.” But, he said, “it’s driven people up the wall.”

It was not just the exchange with Ms. Harris. On Tuesday, in a friendlier give-and-take with Senator John Kennedy, Republican of Louisiana, Judge Barrett fell back on the excuse that “I’m certainly not a scientist,” when asked her views on a warming planet. That might sound bland, but it closely tracks the language used by Republican lawmakers who oppose action on climate change or deny the science outright.

And stating “I would not say I have firm views on it” in the face of so much evidence of climate change in daily life, as Judge Barrett did, is controversial.

“She’s a smart and sophisticated person,” said Richard L. Revesz, director of the institute for policy integrity at New York University Law School. “If she didn’t want to associate herself with the climate denial perspective, she could have used different words.”

The hearings were all a charade, of course, but even watching a bit of the debate, I thought that Barrett seems a mean piece of work—perhaps because she knew from the get-go that her confirmation was assured.

78 Comments

  1. jezgrove
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    Yup, Greta Thunberg’s response was brilliant!

  2. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    It is a hallmark of religion that its victim is proud of criticism, and of ignorance.

  3. GBJames
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    sub

  4. eric
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    Such an unnecessary bit of virtue signaling. The GOP Senate would’ve happily confirmed her if she had given the frank and more truthful answer; climate change is real, happening, and caused by humans – but what we choose to do about it is a public policy question for Congress and the executive branch to tackle. The courts are there to say whether the policy is constitutional and whether people are legally following it, not to make it.

    But I suppose her answer has the intended effect of messaging “yes Mitch, I’m in the bag for Exxon, don’t worry.”

    • Posted October 16, 2020 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

      “Such an unnecessary bit of virtue signaling.”

      By Barrett, or by Harris in asking the question? 🙂

      As you say, it’s the job of politicians, not judges, to make policy on climate change (aren’t judges just there to interpret and apply the law?), so asking Barrett about climate change is a bit weird.

      • GBJames
        Posted October 16, 2020 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

        Not when it exposes that the person in question is a science-denier. The ability to differentiate science from woo is important in a justice. Or should be, at least.

        • eric
          Posted October 16, 2020 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

          I don’t interpret her response as science-denial. More as conservative regulation-denial (which she will justify by pretending the science is unsettled).

          • Posted October 16, 2020 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

            Well, it’s PRETEND science denial then, and judges can do that in their decisions, too.

            • eric
              Posted October 16, 2020 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

              Not denying the science outright allows her to use it as a matter of convenience. If she took a firm stance, then she couldn’t do that without being obvious about it.

              So, when Trump wants the government to pay for damages to his golf course, it’s climate change. When Congress wants to stop Exxon pumping out pollution, what climate change?

        • sugould
          Posted October 17, 2020 at 9:38 am | Permalink

          But Barrett also wouldn’t say if voter intimidation was illegal. Which it is, and she probably knows that, too.

      • Historian
        Posted October 16, 2020 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

        The American political system has evolved in such a way that the judicial branch, particularly the Supreme Court, can interpret and apply the law anyway it pleases. Hence, it is not inconceivable that a conservative Supreme Court will rule that legislation designed to combat climate change is unconstitutional while a liberal court would not. This is why the question was not weird at all and why nominations to the Court are so important.

        It is becoming clear to me that in almost all its aspects the American system of government is breaking down, becoming dysfunctional, largely due to polarization. And there is little to nothing that will be done to change this.

        • Posted October 16, 2020 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

          The fact that the Justices are effectively politicians, able to invent laws as they please, yet cannot be voted out, is the basis of the problem.

          The US arose from the feeling that an unelected King with a lifetime appointment and huge powers was a bad idea. But 9 such people is ok! 🙂

          • savage
            Posted October 17, 2020 at 2:39 am | Permalink

            Even worse, it is thought that these unelected judges are indispensable! Apparently, there is little confidence that acceptable legislation could be passed democratically by elected representatives, especially at the state level.

  5. Posted October 16, 2020 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    Amy has within her hand the ability to snuff out the lives of millions of sick Americans, all based upon the falsehood called Originalism. Go back to the Second Amend…. ‘A well-regulated militia being necessary for the security of a free state, the right of people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed’ Leave aside the obvious blunder of ignoring the opening part of the statement, there is a greater concern. ‘Arms’ in 1776 meant a flintlock musket or pistol, that could fling a small lead ball in any direction and cause a nasty bruise. It is not the same as ‘arms’ in 2020 which could be a rifle with bumpstock that could kill 100 people and wound 1000 in under three minutes. It is frankly ludicrous to go back to the original. But why is she doing this? Because she may absolve herself from the morality of her actions if she pretends that she was ‘only obeying orders’ written 245 years ago. We are familiar with that defense from the Nuremberg trials of Nazis in 1946.
    And what about pulling health care from 130 million with pre-existing conditions? Originalism allows you to scrap almost any bit of socially advanced legislation. She could, by the stroke of a pen, condemn six million Americans a year to an early grave. Odd number, that six million.
    We all know the hidden wickedness of religion. ‘My god made me do it!’

    And, to think, you so nearly had Bernie!

    • Posted October 16, 2020 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

      “… all based upon the falsehood called Originalism.”

      Hmm, I think there’s a lot to be said for Originalism.

      If you have a system where unelected judges, rather than elected politicians, are the ones responsible for updating the law, then you have a highly politicised judiciary.

      And that’s what’s wrong with the whole charade, the fact that SCOTUS justices are effectively (unelected) politicians.

    • savage
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

      Arms were more lethal in 1776 because there was no modern medicine. The US murder rate might be about 5-times higher with the medical infrastructure of the early 20th century.

  6. Randall Schenck
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    Our view and concentration on the supreme court could become insignificant in many ways if we demanded our congress do it’s job. Funny but 233 years ago they thought congress would. How wrong they were. Instead we let 9 unelected judges with lifetime appointment decide all the difficult issues.

    • eric
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

      As I sort of allude to above, she’s probably signaling to the GOPers in the Senate that she’ll rule many forms of environmental regulation to be unconstitutional. The legal logic for striking it down would be something like: since I won’t admit it’s actually happening, a regulation to prevent it limits private citizen and corporation freedom unnecessarily.

      In that sense, ‘Congress do your job’ won’t fix the issue, since Barrett is subtly implying that she’ll strike down the regulations they pass.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted October 16, 2020 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

        You are implying the court can act on something where no law exist. To my knowledge the legislature has not passed any laws specifically for or against climate change. They can make laws regulating fracking or where oil can be drilled on federal lands. They can set standards for Auto industry. How is the court to find that unconstitutional? Is the court going to say the EPA is unconstitutional?

        The legislature has simply rolled over and done nothing on many issues such as gun control because of politics, not because of the courts. The legislature can pass all kinds of laws on guns with no interference from the court. Even the last stupid idea from the court regarding ownership of guns has nothing to do with regulating them.

        • Posted October 16, 2020 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

          There are many ways in which the supreme court can rule existing environmental law “unconstitutional”. In the 19902, right-wingers argued that property rights were a fundamental liberty and therefore environmental laws that restricted what you could do with your property were unconstitutional. This argument got lots of traction in western reactionary states, especially Texas, where the Property Rights group was led by George Bush.

          Another popular wildcard to declare broad classes of laws “unconstitional” is to argue that they abrohgate “states’ rights”. This has been another big right-wing refrain to undo laws they don’t like.

          The Supreme Court has the final say on everything.

        • eric
          Posted October 16, 2020 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

          How is the court to find that unconstitutional? Is the court going to say the EPA is unconstitutional?

          They’ll say that without evidence that X causes an environmental change, a regulation preventing industry from pumping out X would have no rational basis and thus cannot serve any legitimate government purpose.

          Along comes Barrett’s climate denial. She’ll say there are no environmental changes happening period. Thus X can’t be causing a change. Thus regulating X has no rational basis and serves no legitimate government purpose.

          Of course they keep the EPA. The GOP needs it to downgrade air and water quality standards.

  7. phoffman56
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    As Greta effectively said, Amy didn’t avoid the matter (as in the title here). But as the article itself essentially said, she showed her colors on this very plainly. As if a member of the Supreme Court should show impartiality by having ignorance about really important things, therefore would have no a priori prejudice by never having devoted a minute of her thought to it.

    ‘I’m just a mechanical robot programmed with the technicalities of the abstract law and nothing else. So I’ll just press a button to get my internal algorithm going each time a decision is required of me.’ Gimme a break.

    On climate change is maybe the only thing that non-USians should worry about here. Otherwise, USians have made their bed, let them sleep in it: on public health, on gun control, on money in politics, on abortion, … I assume those justices won’t be the ones pushing the button to start a thermonuclear holocaust.

  8. Posted October 16, 2020 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    Scientific “consensus” notwithstanding, given that 55% of liberal Democrats say that climate change reflects the best available evidence compared to only 11% of conservative Republicans, it’s hard to fault Barrett’s characterization of climate change as “politically controversial” and “a very contentious matter of public debate.”

    • Posted October 16, 2020 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

      That asked her if it was HAPPENING, not whether it was politically controversial. Her answer ducked Harris’s question, so I do fault her answer.

      • Posted October 16, 2020 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

        Point taken. I should have said “hard to contest” rather than “hard to fault.” You can fault her answer because it didn’t address the question even though it’s uncontestably true.

  9. Jay Baldwin
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    Democrats don’t ask questions about evolution because they have an election to win. A not insignificant number of young-earthers vote D.

    • Posted October 16, 2020 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

      I think that’s exactly correct.

    • Posted October 16, 2020 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

      Perhaps, but at least moderators can ask the question during debates. As I recall, it was asked some years ago at a multi-candidate Republican Presidential debate.

      • Posted October 16, 2020 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

        And, IIRC, all of the Republicans denied evolution.

        • tomh
          Posted October 16, 2020 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

          All except Huntsman, as I recall. Of course, he didn’t have a prayer.

    • Posted October 17, 2020 at 4:42 am | Permalink

      According to mirandaga above, 45% of Democrats do not agree that “climate change reflects the best available evidence”. Why re they not concerned about that 45% of their voters?

      In reality, Dems don’t ask about evolution because it’s not a hot political topic.

  10. Jon Gallant
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    Unfortunately, little attention has been paid to the role of Republican presidents in bringing Diversity and Inclusion to the Supreme Court. Clarence Thomas, currently the only Supremo who is African-American, was nominated by President George H.W. Bush. Justices Scalia and Alito, both members of the marginalized Italian-American community, were nominated respectively by Presidents Reagan and George W. Bush. And President Trump has now nominated Amy Coney Barrett, who is not only a woman but a member of the vulnerable minority of religious fanatics. As president O’Hara of the University of Notre Dame revealed some years ago, “”Notre Dame football is a spiritual service because it is played for the honor and glory of God and of his Blessed Mother. “

  11. Posted October 16, 2020 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    Climate change is happening, but it is not obvious it is polluting the air we breathe or water we drink. (Perhaps indirectly through more forest fires, but that is not certain.) I think Harris is mixing up environmental problems.

    • ruth
      Posted October 17, 2020 at 9:36 am | Permalink

      Exactly. Harris’ questions shows the same kind of scientific illiteracy she wanted to expose in Barrett.
      Climate change threatens coast lines, marine creatures via warmer temperatures as well as acidification, food security and lots of other things, but not in any obvious way air or tap water quality.

      • tomh
        Posted October 17, 2020 at 10:31 am | Permalink

        “Harris’ questions shows the same kind of scientific illiteracy she wanted to expose in Barrett.”

        The same kind of illiteracy? Really? According to the CDC “climate change will affect human health by increasing ground-level ozone and/or particulate matter air pollution in some locations. Ground-level ozone (a key component of smog) is associated with many health problems, including diminished lung function, increased hospital admissions and emergency department visits for asthma, and increases in premature deaths.

  12. DrBrydon
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    I fail to see what her views on climate change have to do with her role as a judge. If climate change somehow comes before the court, the issue will undoubtedly be one of government authority (probably related to Takings), and that is a legal question.

    • Posted October 16, 2020 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

      So judges always make decisions solely on the legal merits and their general beliefs about the subject involved have no influence? Beware of people selling bridges.

      • Posted October 17, 2020 at 4:46 am | Permalink

        This is the problem with the American legal system: the judiciary is politicised.

        Yes judges should always base their decisions on the legal merits and, if they don’t, they should be fired.

        I agree with DrBrydon, asking ABC about climate change is nonsense. She’s not applying to make policy, she’s applying to be a judge.

        • GBJames
          Posted October 17, 2020 at 8:14 am | Permalink

          Would you want to be judged by someone who doesn’t think science is real?

          • Posted October 17, 2020 at 8:28 am | Permalink

            I’d want to be judged fairly according to the law and the relevant facts of the case.

            I would not want a judge’s disagreement with me on climate change or evolution to cloud their judgement in my case, nor would I want a judge’s disagreement with a climate denier or evolution denier to cloud their judgement in that person’s case.

            • GBJames
              Posted October 17, 2020 at 8:36 am | Permalink

              How can you trust a judge to fairly understand the law if she doesn’t understand the basics of scientific reasoning?

              This is not a question of simple differences of opinion. It is entirely about whether one can be fair if one is incapable of shedding blinders of this magnitude.

              • Posted October 17, 2020 at 8:42 am | Permalink

                Many of her judgements would be disastrously wrong. So you can judge her judging ability by how well she has judged in the past – which is exactly what they do in sane judicial systems.

              • GBJames
                Posted October 17, 2020 at 8:47 am | Permalink

                If a judge refuses, or can’t, acknowledge that gravity is a force in nature, there’s little reason to go argue about her opinions on other matters. You’ll find much confirmation, no doubt. But it is enough to know upfront that this person is delusional and can’t be trusted.

            • Posted October 17, 2020 at 9:54 am | Permalink

              Sure, that’s how it’s supposed to work but these are still human beings. Imagine if you were on the court and had to judge a case where one side touted the wonders of Intelligent Design and the other Evolution. Can you honestly say that your opinion wouldn’t be biased? It’s not as if the judge would simply vote for the side that aligns with her beliefs. More likely she would be biased as to the general intelligence and character of one side vs the other.

              • Posted October 17, 2020 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

                Yes I can honestly say that I would not be biased. And a real judge must do the same.

                It’s not as if belief in ID is the only thing that might colour a judge’s opinion. Would you say you can’t have Democrat judges because they might not be trusted to treat Trumpers fairly?

              • Posted October 17, 2020 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

                Of course everything colors a person’s opinion. That’s my point. The approval process should bring those preferences to light. Of course, belief in any certain thing doesn’t categorically disqualify a candidate but the Senators vote at the end of the process based on the sum total of the candidate’s history and responses during the hearings. Perhaps this time the process is simpler. Republican senators will vote for her and Democrats against.

              • Alexander
                Posted October 17, 2020 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

                “It’s not as if belief in ID is the only thing that might colour a judge’s opinion. Would you say you can’t have Democrat judges because they might not be trusted to treat Trumpers fairly?”

                It is not a question of belonging to a political party. If you believe in ID, no matter if you are republican or democrat, you prove that you don’t make proof of judgement and common sense. Such a judge you simply can’t trust.

              • Posted October 18, 2020 at 4:02 am | Permalink

                No you don’t prove that at all, it merely proves you are not well educated in one area of biology. It says nothing about your ability to make legal judgements. Her ability to apply the law should be judged by how well she has applied the law in the past.

              • Alexander
                Posted October 18, 2020 at 4:20 am | Permalink

                “No you don’t prove that at all, it merely proves you are not well educated in one area of biology. It says nothing about your ability to make legal judgements. Her ability to apply the law should be judged by how well she has applied the law in the past.”

                I don’t agree with you. If as a legal professional you are not aware of one of the major problems in the US, affecting teaching at schools, and you ignore the opinions of the vast majority of scientists about this problem (you don’t have to be a biologist), your judgment is flawed, and you are not suited at all to belong to a juridical body that has too much power and is not politically neutral to begin with.

              • Posted October 19, 2020 at 4:02 am | Permalink

                A judge should judge a case based on the facts as presented. End of story. The Dover trial wasn’t won by the judge’s background knowledge of evolution but by devastating testimony and cross examination.

              • GBJames
                Posted October 18, 2020 at 9:31 am | Permalink

                @Jeremy… You seem to be trying to make the case that it is possible for a judge/justice to be “able to make legal judgements” and “apply the law” (presumably you mean “correctly” and “wisely”) without having any basic understanding of the nature of the universe. That a judge can believe that the world is 6 thousand years old, that climate change doesn’t really exist, and (heck, why not) that the law of gravity doesn’t apply on other planets. These sorts of ideas are clear indicators that a person is not capable of sound reasoning. And if sound reasoning isn’t required for making wise legal judgements then what is? What would be disqualifying for the job?

          • Posted October 17, 2020 at 9:49 am | Permalink

            I think it’s a fair question as the best Dems can do is to show everyone her flaws, such as they are. With her uber-religious background, she might be expected to hold all kinds of odd beliefs. That’s her right, of course, but it is good to show everyone who Trump and the Federalist Society are putting on the court.

        • Alexander
          Posted October 17, 2020 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

          “I agree with DrBrydon, asking ABC about climate change is nonsense. She’s not applying to make policy, she’s applying to be a judge.”

          I think that it is a must that you can trust a judge, any judge. And you will only find this out by asking the incumbent common-sense questions. If she proves that she has no common sense ideas about climate change and other imminent problems, you can prove she is devoid of common sense, and her judgement is severely infected by religious nonsense.

          • Posted October 18, 2020 at 3:59 am | Permalink

            Well she hasn’t proved that. All she’s proved is that she doesn’t know what’s in the First Amendment. That’s far more worrying to me than her dodging a question on climate change.

            • Posted October 18, 2020 at 11:06 am | Permalink

              One thing that was brought up by one of the experts on Fareed Zakaria’s show this morning sounded reasonable to me. The Supreme Court nominees can’t answer any substantive questions as merely expressing an opinion will result in calls for recusal should a relevant case come before the court. In other words, the nomination system is broken and ACB is merely doing what she needs to do to get through the process.

              • rickflick
                Posted October 18, 2020 at 11:29 am | Permalink

                Rather than interrogate her at length, they should spend time discussing other lines of evidence, like prior behavior and published views.

              • Posted October 18, 2020 at 11:36 am | Permalink

                Yes, that was my first thought also. However, the senators would have to discuss ACB’s previous writings among themselves as she wouldn’t respond lest a relevant case come before the court. Still, it might have been interesting to watch her squirm while they discussed her work heatedly in front of her. Perhaps it would force her to raise her hand occasionally to say, “Could I please set the record straight on this?”

              • Posted October 19, 2020 at 4:17 am | Permalink

                That last sentence pretty much sums up my position. It seems to me that quite a lot of the US process of government is based on the assumption that politicians will be reasonable and honourable and will work together when it’s in the best interests of the state. This is increasingly becoming a false assumption.

                I will note that politics in the UK has always been partizan and adversarial and it’s reflected in the way our institutions work. For example, the mechanism for appointing judges is designed to remove politicians from the process as much as possible. Similarly the mechanism for deciding the boundaries of electoral districts. We have an independent commission for doing that. The idea that it should be in the hands of politicians would be laughable to most Brits.

    • Alexander
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

      Barrett’s response to the question by Harris about climate change demonstrated her extreme narrow mindedness, that of a catholic nun been locked in a cloister on top of a mountain for decades. Her response on the question about smoking and cancer was telling: she agrees that cigarettes cause cancer because it is printed on the package! Her idea that laws about, for example, gay marriages have to be extracted from the minds and writings by the founders of the US of 250 years ago is ludicrous. If common law has to be based on this kind of insights, we have to despair.

  13. Posted October 16, 2020 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    Judging from the pattern of questions she stonewalls, my guess is that ACB has been coached to avoid saying anything on controversial subjects, especially on ones for which Trump takes a position. This makes sense as she’s already got the position. There’s no way that the Senate doesn’t approve her. Unfortunately, she’s following these instructions to such a degree that she’s making the approval process even more a charade than it already was. Pretty much all SCOTUS nominees avoid answering the tough questions but she’s even avoiding the no-brainers.

    • Mark R.
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, she couldn’t even say that Trump couldn’t delay the election. That is clearly a power the POTUS doesn’t have; as you said, a no-brainer. She is such a fraud; it’s a horror show. Just another clone from the Federal Society. Now we have 3 justices (4 if you count Roberts) from that warped “think tank” who want an American oligarchy/theocracy…and are getting it.

      And speaking of horror show, Trump’s town hall, which was shown on 3 networks as opposed to Biden’s being shown on one network lost the “rating war” by a million viewers. That must rankle the man-baby’s narcissism. And I’m sure a large percentage of Trump viewers were just tuning in to see the train wreck (as I think you said you were going to do yesterday).

      • Posted October 16, 2020 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

        Yes, that was surprising news. Also, Rupert Murdoch says Biden is going to win the election.

  14. Randall Schenck
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    The point I make while many want to cry in their beer about the supreme court is the Congress, who is suppose to be making the law does nothing. Now, maybe that will change just a bit when the republican majority is long gone. Congress could do a lot on many of the same items that everyone cries about to the court. But they do not. They have either ignored taking action or passed much of their responsibility to the executive and this has been going on for many years.

    We just had a president who did whatever the hell he wanted for 4 years while congress did nothing. And this guy was brand new to working in government. Now the country goes back to a career politician for president. What will actually get done? I would forecast that not much will get done.

    • GBJames
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

      “We just had a president who did whatever the hell he wanted for 4 years while congress did nothing.”

      More specifically, the Senate did nothing. If Dems take the Senate back and make structural changes, things will change. (Abolish the filibuster, admit DC and Puerto Rico as states, increase the size of the Supreme Court, outlaw gerrymandering in federal office districts.)

  15. Saul Sorrell-Till
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    Seems to me that liberals have to fight twice as hard for every gain, and have to do so with one arm tied behind their backs.

    Studies consistently show that it’s vastly easier to make someone think like a conservative than think like a liberal. This gives conservative politicians an inbuilt advantage on almost every political playing field. It’s why Democrats will be electorally punished for court-packing, even though the majority didn’t seem to give a shit when the GOP did it.
    Most of the time conservative politicians have to do one thing only: scare people. Which is easy. Liberals OTOH have to get people to believe in the possibility of new policies, they have to get them to empathise, they have to get them to suspend their caution…all while their opponents can sit at home pumping out lazy ads telling people that free healthcare will somehow kill you, or that climate change policies will turn America into the USSR.

    It’s asymmetric warfare and you can thank our natural inclination to default to conservatism every time the remotest stress is placed on our minds. Stupid brains.

    • Posted October 16, 2020 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

      I agree but there’s a lot more to the “conservative” position as implemented by the Republicans. One of the most damaging is the idea that people do better with as little government as possible and that government lacks competence. Though I assume he didn’t start it, Reagan did a lot to push this on American voters. I suspect a lot of Democrats actually believe this too.

      Although people think of the 50s and 60s as a more conservative time, that’s only with respect to social issues. There was a huge investment in infrastructure and supporting of the economy, free trade, etc. That is now gone. These are things so-called conservatives also used to care about.

      • Historian
        Posted October 16, 2020 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

        For a brief, shining moment under LBJ, the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, and Medicare were passed. We should not forget that.

        • Posted October 16, 2020 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

          Yes, it can happen. Let’s hope it will again in the next few years.

  16. Ken Phelps
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    She actually gives me the creepy feeling that she may be the first appointee of The Stepford Court.

  17. DIRK J VANDEPOL
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

    I was so outraged I wrote a letter to the NY Times about that very thing. Then I read your post- very close to my mind, but I have something to add- namely that there’s nothing substantive to separate her views on global warming versus her views on the roundness of the earth other than the disparity of money and political power of the allies of those two views:
    Barrett refused to answer a question about Global warming on the basis of it being an issue which was politically controversial. While it is true that Global warming might be politically controversial in the united states, it is hardly scientifically controversial in any way that is more meaningful than the scientific controversy about the roundness of the earth. What’s the difference? Global warming skepticism has wealthy and powerful political allies- which happen to be her political allies.

    Meanwhile, AIDS denialists and flat earthers (thankfully) lack the same money and political power, so we can trust she won’t take their views seriously.

    But if it is only political power- of her political advocates and allies no less- which separates her view on global warming from her view on whether HIV causes AIDS, or whether the earth is even round, doesn’t that say something about what whether or not we can expect to receive from her equal justice under the law?

    She says she has her own “open mind” and will legislate based on the law and not on her political preferences. But if she can’t even look at scientific fact without her political preferences polluting her view, why should we believe that?

    Her answer about global warming casts tremendous doubt on her claims of impartiality and independence. Any fair-minded senator should be very concerned by this.

    It is worth noting that her views on global warming, when combined with the money and political power supporting those scientifically debunked views, fits very well with the Citizens United decision. Given enough money, America may as well expect to have the Flat Earth Society be heard before the SCOTUS, and trust they will have an unbiased ear for their cause.

  18. Filippo
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    ‘Judge Barrett fell back on the excuse that “I’m certainly not a scientist” . . . .’

    Would that someone had asked her the age of the Earth. It would shine some light on her regard for evidence and critical, rational thinking, seemingly essentials for a jurist.

    • Mark R.
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

      Yes…her worldview is bent on Earth’s age as having 3 zeros, not 9. That’s quite a magnitude of difference and I cannot trust the judgment of one such as her.

  19. Posted October 16, 2020 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

    People have said that we should ignore her religious beliefs, and she’s averred that they won’t affect her rulings. Does anybody really believe that?

    Her official jurisprudence, Originalism, is itself a religious belief, or at least pure woo. The idea that the many framers who compromised on the Constitution had a single intent is literally incredible. I mean, Collective Soul is a great band, but it makes for lousy American history.

    In reality, neither knowledge of the founders’ thought-processes (even if you had it) nor a close reading of the texts of Constitution and laws will provide a straightforward resolution of every case. The rest must be filled in by a Justice’s beliefs. And if their core beliefs involve religious beliefs, those will matter.

  20. rickflick
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

    she could have said that the question of the Earth’s shape is unsettled, and she’d still get confirmed. – sadly, yes.

    • rickflick
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

      On second thought, she could have said anything about any subject and still be confirmed. This, I’m afraid, is insanity.

      • Mark R.
        Posted October 16, 2020 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

        Insanity is Trump’s modus operandi. And who knew how contagious insanity was…I certainly didn’t. It’s worse than Covid-19 it seems.

        • Alexander
          Posted October 18, 2020 at 2:56 am | Permalink

          Isn’t he still on steroids? It looks like he is.

  21. Posted October 16, 2020 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

    I don’t see ACB as someone who’s trustworthy. She’s terribly lacking in forthrightness.
    BTW, Biden won the Night of the Town Halls.


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