Pete Buttigieg Shreds Amy Coney Barrett’s Opening Statement as ‘Judicial Activism Cloaked in Judicial Humility’
Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg shredded Appellate Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s opening statement at her Supreme Court nomination hearings on Monday as “judicial activism cloaked in judicial humility.”
Barrett, whom President Donald Trump nominated last month after the passing of the liberal titan Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, is a staunch conservative who opposes abortion, gay rights, and the Affordable Care Act, which Republicans are hoping the Court strikes down when it hears a new challenge to the law next month – one week after the presidential election.
The courts “have a vital responsibility to enforce the rule of law,” Barrett said before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“But courts are not designed to solve every problem or right every wrong in our public life,” she continued. “The policy decisions and value judgments of government must be made by the political branches elected by and accountable to the People. The public should not expect courts to do so, and courts should not try.”
Barrett said that her experience clerking for Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in 2016 and was replaced by Justice Neil Gorsuch, shaped her perspective on how the judicial branch should interpret laws.
“A judge must apply the law as written, not as the judge wishes it were,” she said. “Sometimes that approach meant reaching results that he did not like. But as he put it in one of his best-known opinions, that is what it means to say we have a government of laws, not of men.”
Buttigieg cautioned people to not buy into the sugary sound bites.
“This is what nominees do,” Buttigieg said on AM Joy. “They write the most seemingly unobjectionable, dry stuff. But really what I see in there is a pathway to judicial activism cloaked in judicial humility.”
The 38-year-old former presidential candidate said that the courts must respect the Constitution as a “living document” subject to change as society evolves:
At the end of the day, rights in this country have been expanded because courts have understood what the true meaning of the letter of the law and the spirit of the Constitution is. That is not about time-traveling yourself back to the 18th century and subjecting yourself to the same prejudices and limitations as the people who write these words. The Constitution is a living document because the English language is a living language. And you need to have some readiness to understand that in order to serve on the court in a way that will actually make life better.
Buttigieg shared his belief that the courts should be sensitive to change that happens over time, rather than fixed on how things once were:
It was actually Thomas Jefferson himself who said that ‘We might as well ask a man to still wear the coat which fitted him when he was a boy as expect future generations to live under’ – what he called – ‘the regime of their barbarous ancestors.’ So even the founders that these kind of deadhand originalists claim fidelity to understood better than their ideological descendants – today’s judicial so-called conservatives – the importance of keeping with the times. And we deserve judges and justices who understand that.
— AM Joy on MSNBC (@amjoyshow) October 11, 2020