Washington, D.C. – Today, Monday, October 12th, 2020, U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) delivered her opening statement at the hearing to consider Judge Amy Coney Barrett for confirmation to the Supreme Court.
To watch Senator Blackburn’s opening statement, here.
Remarks As Delivered
Judge Barrett, congratulations to you and your family. I’m delighted to see you back in the room. I am thrilled to see you are here with us today. We have had 164 American citizens nominated to the Supreme Court, and today is the fifth time that we have had a female judge come before us. We welcome you.
I will say this. Unfortunately, it’s neither rare nor remarkable to see the kind of performance my Democratic colleagues have put on today. What they are trying to do is convince the American people that they should be terrified of Judge Amy Coney Barrett.
If you listen closely to their full statements, they betray their true intent. You will not find a coherent legal counterargument, but a panicked stump speech on behalf of their controversial platform.
Rather than reviewing your judicial philosophies, they are instead choosing to project their own desires and fears onto the American people. It sounds as if they are trying to create a panic. They decided to drum up indignation over the fact that you dared to present a counterargument against the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. A difference of opinion between two brilliant jurists who often disagree is just too much for them.
Their rhetoric is unsettling, but after listening to them, I worry more about its underpinnings. My colleagues’ remarks displayed a troubling belief that nothing but an activist judiciary will do for them.
You would think that my colleagues would jump at the opportunity to support a successful, female legal superstar, who is highly regarded by both her Democratic and Republican colleagues, and who is a working mom. As today’s increasingly paternalistic and disrespectful arguments have shown, if they had their way, only certain kinds of women would be allowed into this hearing room.
On that note, not long ago, they scrutinized your commitment to the Catholic faith and tried to use that as a way to question your competency and professionalism. They know that that is unconstitutional. The Constitution forbids it.
You will be an intellectual powerhouse on the Supreme Court and steer their focus toward textualism and originalism as rightful guiding philosophies.
I love Justice Scalia’s definition of textualism. “Textualism in its present form begins and ends with what the text says and implies.” He explains this method can lead to both conservative and liberal outcomes. Similarly, originalism does not always lead a jurist down the path they would most like to follow. This method of interpretation holds that the meaning of a legal document like our constitution remains fixed over time even when applied to new questions. This requires more study and patience than other methods that allow judges to reinvent the law, for the activist, when things get tricky.
I appreciate that you have written nearly 100 opinions and have participated in over 900 appeals where you have applied this complex reasoning. Thank you for that. We know that you are a prolific scholar and author of over a dozen articles on the courts and the Constitution.
The ABA has rated you as well qualified to serve as a Supreme Court justice. I appreciate that many times you have probably done this with a child in your arms, on your hip, or somewhere in tow, maybe waiting for a ballgame to begin. You have done all of this even as you have been a friend, a mentor, a wife, and a mom.
These are impressive qualifications by any standard, so it is no surprise that you are fielding attacks from other angles. Many of my colleagues have wasted a lot of their time complaining about the process in an effort to delay and obstruct a legitimate, constitutionally sound confirmation hearing.
Let’s not forget it was the Democrats who took an axe to process in 2018 when they dropped unsubstantiated allegations against Justice Kavanaugh. We still do not have the full story about their level of coordination with activists and mainstream media outlets, but we know they turned that confirmation into a circus.
On that note, it is hard to take seriously their complaints about moving too quickly. We have heard about the timeline for Justice O’Connor, 33 days, Justice Ginsburg, 43 days. Just a word on Justice Ginsburg, whose seat we are feeling: she was a role model for many because she fought to open more doors for women in the law and beyond.
I sincerely hope that I am as effective an advocate in the Senate as she was on the Court.
We know from studying American history that women have had to always fight for a seat at the table. This goes back to Abigail Adams, who urged her husband John to please “remember the ladies” in their fight for independence. We know it took 150 years for women to get the right to vote, but fortunately the Constitution allowed for that amendment process.
These principles, of course, include the separation of powers, and federalism in our government—a system of checks and balances that prevents encroachment by one branch on another. If Congress acts beyond the scope of its legislative authority or the president grows too power-hungry, the judiciary has the authority to rain that branch in. And states and citizens have the right to stand up and challenge that overreach as being beyond the scope of federal power.
Together, the separation of powers and federalism have protected our republic from falling into the hands of tyrants, but keep in mind that the founders despised the tyranny of British rule just as much as they despised the whims of the mob.
Flash forward to today. American exceptionalism is under bitter attack from yet another mob. While most Americans take pride in our heritage, a vocal minority finds fault at every turn. They demand to know, can we still call the Constitution a relevant, valid source of law even if no women or people of color participated in the drafting? Are the principles in that document still capable of curbing abuses of power and safeguarding freedom? Can we have faith that the future of democracy remains strong despite a summer of looting and violence in the streets? The answer to each question is yes. Over the next few days, I expect that you, Judge Barrett, will explain why. So many families are watching today and we are all going to be listening. Thank you for appearing before us. We look forward to your answers.