Maybe Rich Lowry’s right after all, and Democrats really don’t have much more to throw at Amy Coney Barrett. Or, perhaps they’re just tossing out the cheap stuff now in anticipation of bigger attacks later. If this nugget from NBC News is any indication, though, Senate Democrats might just be proving that they can adequately vet a Supreme Court nominee in a short period of time.
How else to describe this supposed violation of disclosure as anything but esoteric? And guess who tipped off NBC to the issue:
U.S. Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett did not include on her Senate Judiciary disclosure forms a notable case in which she was one of two lead attorneys: defending a Pittsburgh steel magnate accused of helping drive a major Pennsylvania Hospital System into bankruptcy.
Coney Barrett, whose experience as a practicing attorney is limited to about two years beginning in 2000, worked on the case for at least six months beginning in June of 2000, according to court documents in Pacer, a database of electronic court records.
Barrett was required, per the questionnaire given to court nominees, to list the “10 most significant litigated matters which you personally handled, whether or not you were the attorney of record” and to “describe in detail the nature of your participation.” Barrett lists just three cases.
The omission was caught by American Bridge 21st Century and passed along to NBC. AB21C is one of David Brock’s archipelago of organizations, a super-PAC that does oppo research for Democrats. AB21C has already spent over $41 million this cycle on efforts against Donald Trump (and fifty dollars against Susan Collins, amusingly, as their only other expenditure). How does NBC describe AB21C? “A Democratic research group.” Ahem.
That on its own makes complaints about the time line hard to sustain. Democrats put David Brock on the case, and the millions of dollars flowing into his orgs are at their apparent disposal. After two weeks of digging, Brock found out an undisclosed case where, er, Barrett didn’t actually do much and there’s no hint of impropriety whatsoever:
A source familiar with Barrett’s work history said her client had “filed only two even arguably substantive filings after she appeared as counsel,” so the work “is not a significant level of involvement.” Still, in two of the three cases Barrett lists, she cites her contribution as having been supporting roles such as assisting with research and briefing materials.
The case was ultimately settled as part of a separate civil suit in which she was not listed. Yet it involves one of the largest nonprofit bankruptcies in U.S. history, at $1.5 billion, which prompted numerous investigations including a criminal probe.
Oh no! An attorney with a client caught up in civil and criminal probes? The deuce you say. This whole objection is meaningless; it reveals no wrongdoing, conflict of interest, or indeed anything about judicial temperament or philosophy. If Barrett didn’t recall this from twenty years ago, it probably speaks to her limited involvement in the case. It’s an oversight on an immaterial point, not an impediment to Barrett’s ability to work as an appellate jurist at any level.
Another court-related story from NBC reminds us why AB21C wants to make Mount Everests out of molehills, though:
The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday declined to lift a nationwide injunction that prevents the Trump administration from enforcing a rule that would regulate a pill commonly used in medication abortions. So for now, the rule remains on hold.
But the court also gave the judge who imposed the ban a chance to consider modifying it to make it less restrictive.
It was the court’s first action on abortion since the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last month.
Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito said the court should have lifted the ban and allowed the government to enforce the rule. The judge who imposed it, they said, “apparently was not troubled by the fact that those responsible for public health in Maryland thought it safe for women (and men) to leave the house and engage in numerous activities that present at least as much risk as visiting a clinic.”
This order didn’t have a controlling opinion, but it did have a dissent from Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas. The point here is that this is a punt for the time being; the case is being sent back for further consideration, and will undoubtedly find its way back to the Supreme Court at some point. Barrett’s seat on the court could make the difference in the outcome of this case and many others on abortion that don’t necessarily touch on Roe or Casey directly. Or Barrett may not make much difference at all, since apparently Alito and Thomas were the only two objecting to a punt this time around.
Nevertheless, the Left is taking no chances. And that’s why it’s unlikely that we’ve seen the worst from Barrett’s political opponents.