While Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barret may be a member of a charismatic, ecumenical covenant Christian community just slightly to the left of the Taliban, she is getting quite the schooling on modern values as she submits to the grilling she’s getting from Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee today.
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After enduring punishing sessions today before Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Barrett faced Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) who proceeded to berate the nominee for using the term “sexual preference” to discuss issues surrounding individual’s gender identity and sexual identification.
Barrett had told senators earlier in the hearing that she has not “discriminated on the basis of sexual preference,” a phrase avoided by LGBTQ activists because of its implicit notion that sexual orientation or gender identity is a choice rather than a genetically predetermined personal destiny.
When Senator Hirono’s time to address the nominee, came around she was quick to call out Barrett for using a term that she called “offensive and outdated.” LGBTQ activists compared the use of the term in the 21st century as akin to referring to African Americans as “colored people,” a term last uttered unironically in the 1950s.
“Not once but twice you used the term ‘sexual preferences’ to describe those in the LGBTQ community,” Senator Hirono said. “Let me make clear, ‘sexual preference’ is an offensive and outdated term. It is used by anti-LGTBQ activists to suggest that sexual orientation is a choice.”
The Senator from Hawaii expressed her worry that Barrett would follow the judicial philosophy of her mentor, the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who wrote a dissenting opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court case that determined that same-sex marriage could no longer be prohibited in this country.
“That sexual orientation is both a normal expression of human sexuality and immutable, was a key part of the majority’s opinion in Obergefell,” Senator Hirono said. “Which, by the way, Scalia did not agree with.”
Senator Hirono long ago announced her opposition to Barrett’s nomination as a matter of principle after Senate Republicans repudiated the doctrine that they used as an excuse to not even consider former President Barack Obama’s nominee in the last year of his term.
Hirono was among the number of Democratic Senators who refused to even meet with Barrett for an informal meet and greet ahead of the hearing, a group that included Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY), Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), and a number of other senators who all felt that a meeting would lend the nomination a legitimacy that it didn’t deserve.
Barrett was forced to apologize for her use of the term “sexual preference,” clarifying that she did not intend to suggest hostility towards LGBTQ rights by her use of the phrase when prompted by Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) who seemed happy to offer the nominee an escape clause for her retrograde phraseology.
“I certainly didn’t mean and would never mean to use a term that would cause any offense in the LGBTQ community,” Barrett said. “If I did, I greatly apologize for that. I simply meant to be referring to Obergefell‘s holding with regard to same-sex marriage.”
With questions about whether, if Barrett is confirmed, the new right-wing majority on the court will revisit what are considered settled precedents in the areas of women’s reproductive rights, voting rights, LGBTQ rights, and other constitutional issues still haunting progressives — who are continuing to mourn the loss of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — the inability to halt Barrett’s confirmation proceedings has been a major bone of contention on the eve of an election that is likely to unseat Donald Trump and give even less legitimacy to his judicial picks than they would have otherwise had.
It’s up to us to call our elected representatives and tell them that they need to halt the confirmation process until after the election and then allow the winner of the contest to select the next Supreme Court justice.
You can watch Senator Mazie Hirono rebuke judge Amy Coney Barrett in the video attached below.
Original reporting by The Associated Press.
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