A leftover from yesterday involving a shrewd question from Cory Booker and a rare weak answer from Barrett. There’s little Democrats can gain politically from this confirmation process: They can notch a few soundbites about Roe and ObamaCare, they can avoid demagoguery about Barrett’s faith that might alienate voters, and they can lay the groundwork for calling Barrett a partisan hack for Trump later if she ends up ruling in his favor in a ballot case that decides the election.
Booker in particular focused on that last part with his questions. At one point he asked her if a president can grant himself a pardon. She declined to answer, understandably, because that’s a legal question that actually might come before the Court. She was asked by others whether the president could ever unilaterally delay a national election and whether his fans can try to intimidate voters at the polls. Again, she declined to answer because both of those topics potentially involve legal questions. One has to do with emergency executive powers, the other with whether a certain type of presence outside a polling place might be criminal or protected as free speech.
I’m willing to cut her a wide berth in ducking all of those. Trump is capable of anything; she really might have to issue rulings on one or more of those subjects. (Soon-ish!) But it was smart of Dems to use their TV time to force her to duck in hopes of raising a little doubt in the mind of the average viewer about her independence. One of their main arguments against Barrett is that Trump clearly wants her confirmed so that there’s an extra conservative justice on the Court in time for any election controversies. He’s aided and abetted the Democratic effort to paint her as a Republican apparatchik who’ll do whatever the president and party expect of her. Their questions to her about Trump are geared towards reinforcing that image.