And if you remember what happened to Brett Kavanaugh, ITYD. Ranking Judiciary Committee member Sen. Dianne Feinstein issued an open letter to chair Lindsey Graham last night complaining about the scheduled October 12 confirmation hearing for Amy Coney Barrett. The letter, signed by the other Democrats on the committee, complained that the “abbreviated” schedule was a “sharp departure from past practice and that it would “deprive the American people of a meaningful opportunity to gauge the nominee and her record.”
So how much time does Feinstein need? Three guesses:
Chairman Graham's abbreviated timeline for the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett undercuts the Senate's ability to fulfill its constitutional advice and consent role. The American public deserves a deliberative, thorough process, and this falls far short. Read our letter: pic.twitter.com/eqkYuANCAw
— Senator Dianne Feinstein (@SenFeinstein) October 1, 2020
This letter is a masterpiece of dishonesty. Feinstein et al complain that the short time frame “specifically calls into question the following” processes needed to adequately vet a nominee:
Specifically, the timeline you have set calls into question the following:
- The FBI’s ability to thoroughly vet the nominee and her background as part of the background investigation (BI) process;
- The production and review of documents that may bear on the nominee’s fitness for appointment to the Supreme Court;
- Adequate time to review the nominee’s entire record;
- Adequate time for questioning the nominee, including through the submission of written Questions for the Record (QFRs).
All of this ignores one key fact, which is this same committee just did this three years ago with Barrett. Senate Democrats conducted a hostile examination in detail of Barrett in her previous confirmation hearing to the appellate court, in part because it was clear that Donald Trump and Republicans considered her a stellar choice for a future Supreme Court nomination. The only period that needs review would be the last three years, which should be rather easy to complete in the next two weeks. Unless Feinstein and her colleagues want to argue that they half-assed their effort in 2017 while putting a Trump appointee on the Seventh Circuit, this time frame should be sufficient for the purposes listed above.
If it’s too tight, how much time do Senate Democrats need to accomplish these tasks? How about a hearing on October 19, or October 26? Would Senate Democrats commit to voting on the nomination in November after the election if Graham allowed more time? The end of the letter shows that they don’t actually want to vet Barrett at all, offering a truly breathtaking level of intellectual dishonesty:
The timeline for consideration of Judge Barrett’s nomination is incompatible with the Senate’s constitutional role. We again urge you to delay consideration of this nomination until after the presidential inauguration.
So none of those issues are the real objection — Feinstein and her colleagues just used them as excuses to demand that Trump leave the seat open. She might have well added this to the paragraph (NSFW):
Let’s take the process argument up again, however, in light of Democrats’ behavior in the last Supreme Court confirmation. Democrats had three months to prepare for Kavanaugh’s confirmation, which Feinstein used to leak an unsubstantiated accusation of an assault at a teen-age party from decades earlier that not even the accuser’s cited witnesses would back up. Senate Democrats then successfully delayed the process even further so that they could drum up even more unsubstantiated accusations, boosted by Trump-opposing attorneys (in both the Ramirez and Swetnick cases), allowing Senate Democrats to conduct a character assassination on Kavanaugh on national television.
That is how Feinstein and her colleagues view their “constitutional role.” I think we can pardon Graham for not allowing enough time for Senate Democrats to run that playbook against Barrett.