The first day of the Senate sessions to confirm Amy Connie Barrett before the Supreme Court was a disgrace and a sexist spectacle.
The first was the simple fact that the hearings were taking place at all. A pandemic continues to ravage the United States, killing more than 210,000 people and devastating the US economy. Millions of Americans are out of work, struggling to pay rent or mortgages, worried about how they can afford groceries. Senate Republicans can̵
The fact that the hearings are taking place at all is also admirable, given the blocking of such hearings by Mitch McConnell to replace justice Antonin Scalia after his death in February of the election year. At the time, McConnell and the Republican Party insisted that upholding justice would be inappropriate and would undermine the legitimacy of the court. Even many months before the election, they said, the American people must decide who will appoint a new judge. McConnell blocked the Senate from even hearing Merrick Garland, President-nominated Barack Obama. At the time, Amy Connie Barrett appeared on television, saying that replacing Scalia in an election year would be inappropriate – and that it would be particularly inappropriate to replace “the toughest conservative in court” with a liberal one, because “this is not a sideline ”.
It’s election year now – and it’s much, much closer to the election than when Scalia died in 2016. The justice that is being replaced is Ruth Bader Ginsburg, one of the court’s most loyal liberals. The woman nominated to replace her is a far-right conservative – not a sideline. Yet all these hypocrites, from McConnell to the Senate Republicans to Barrett herself, are happy to move forward because this time they have power.
The hearing was also held indoors, as the rate of airborne virus infection is rising across the country. A Republican senator, Mike Lee, attended the hearings and took off his mask, although he recently tested positive for Covid-19. He seems to have caught the virus at a party celebrating Amy Connie Barrett’s nomination, which led to a super spreader event with the White House as zero. Lee, a self-described legislator for life, insisted on attending the hearings in person, putting everyone in the room and the support staff in charge of cleaning up to the detriment – all to confirm the self-described “life” nominated for the Supreme Court. who any honest person will admit was elected because the president believes she will repeal Rowe against Wade, sided with him in a contested election and deprive millions of Americans of their health care by repealing the Affordable Care Act.
All of this would be bad enough, but the hearing itself was in fact a caricature of how conservative men approach accomplished women. There is no doubt that Barrett is respected among her colleagues at Notre Dame and that the conservative lawyers and judges she has worked for and worked for say she has a keen legal mind. Yet every Republican who gets a chance to speak mentions Barrett’s status as a mother and usually emphasizes that he has seven children, many of whom are still in school. Her maternal capacity, as well as her professional achievements, were cited as evidence of her leadership skills and status as a role model for young girls.
There is nothing wrong with recognizing that Barrett is a mother or welcoming our children in the room (although I question the wisdom of having six children in a room with a Covid patient and many others who have recently been exposed). It is not uncommon for a court panel to mention the nominee’s parental status. What is however, it is unusual for any member of a party to raise it, often more than once, and even emphasize it as a bench qualification. Many Republican senators say, for example, that Barrett will be the first female justice with school-age children – a little more and something hard to imagine being said about a man. Do we know which is the first male Supreme Court with school-age children? Would this even be registered?
The Republican message seemed to be that Barrett was especially admirable as a woman because of her large family. It is an old sexist trope that a woman’s value depends on her fertility – and that the birth of children or a large number of children implies that the woman is more righteous and ready to accept her natural motherly role. This is also a racialized view: white women with large families are often praised by conservatives, while black and brown women with large families are condemned.
Republicans have repeatedly said that Barrett’s personal life, including her faith, should be banned. Yet they repeatedly raised her personal life, including her faith, as an asset. They seem to want to use what they claim is Barrett’s personal life, both as a sword and as a shield: an argument in her favor, but one that cannot be refuted on his own terms or even questioned. because that would mean criticizing her private beliefs and imposing a “religious test.”
It was hypocrisy from beginning to end. It was also a profound demonstration of disrespect for American women who would like to be judged professionally by our qualifications – not the size of our family.