Opponents of Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court are desperate.
There are no good legal objections to her nomination. That is why critics are scrambling for a moral one. But based on what they have come up with so far, there don't appear to be any good moral objections either.
"Amy Coney Barrett’s qualifications are irrelevant,” said former Director of the Office of Government EthicsWalter Shaub. “Her willingness to accept the nomination under these circumstances reveals a disqualifying lack of character.”
Said theAtlantic’sDavid Frum, “I'm worried by a judge who'd accept a nomination under these circumstances.”
“Something that should be said (but won't be nearly enough) is that any judge who would ACCEPT a nomination under these circumstances is, you know, kind of a shameless partisan hack who is unfit to serve on the highest court in the land,” said theNation’sElie Mystal.
What does that even mean, “under these circumstances”? That Barrett accepted the nomination after President Trump fulfilled his constitutional duties? As myWashington ExaminercolleagueGrant Addisonnotes, “Just saying something vague and semi-serious sounding like ‘under these conditions’ doesn’t make the conditions in questions any less standard.”
The president has the authority to nominate, at any time during his presidency, a candidate to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court. The U.S. Senate has the authority to give advice and consent on the nomination. Barrett is qualified for the job. There is nothing unconstitutional about this.
There is nothing unusual aboutelection-year nominations and confirmations. There isnothing rushed about Barrett’s nomination. No precedent is being broken; no norm is being slashed. This “under these circumstances” talking point seems like an act of desperation. It seems like the sort of thing that people say when they have run out of ideas but want to obscure their partisan motivations.
They cannot attack the constitutionality of Barrett’s nomination. They cannot attack her qualifications. So, they instead scaremonger with ominous warnings about “circumstances."
“That Amy Coney Barrett accepted the nomination in these circumstances is the reason why she should be disqualified from the appointment,” argued theGuardian’sVanessa Badham. “Her judgment is subordinate to her self-interest. She has no honour, no integrity. The person who deserves this position would have said no.”
The progressive advocacy groupIndivisible Guilddeclared elsewhere, “We knew that Donald Trump's pick to fill the Supreme Court vacancy would be bad – especially under these circumstances – but Amy Coney Barrett is a truly horrifying pick.”
Barrett is “horrifying,” the group explains, because she disagrees with Chief Justice John Roberts's argument that the Affordable Care Act is a tax.
“[W]hat kind of craven, awful person would even consider accepting a nomination under these circumstances,” asked left-wing activist and Media Matter alumEric Boehlert.
Kind of funny how they all use the same language, isn't it?
One final thought: When President Barack Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland during an election year to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, did Garland disqualify himself by accepting the position underthose circumstances? Of course he didn't. Only a desperate and dishonest partisan would say something like that.