On day three of the confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, those of us obligated to listen were treated to a lot of campaign speeches. Democrats, who seem to have little interest in actually assessing Judge Barrett’s qualifications, have treated us to soliloquies on a range of topics. Whether it is Obamacare, voting rights, gun rights, money in politics, or abortion, their long-winded speeches often seem more appropriate for the campaign trail.
With no rebuttals from Republicans during the hearing, Americans watching may think that Judge Barrett, if confirmed, will overturn of every Supreme Court precedent ever set. And that people will be dying in the street because Barrett will vote to strike down Obamacare. Oh, and that her nomination is part of some dark-money conspiracy engineered by the Federalist Society to destroy America.
Apparently, Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) had had it up to his eyeballs with the electioneering and decided to knock down these stump speeches. As is often his style, he surgically destroyed the foundation of each policy argument Democrats attempted to make. He also made some of them look as foolish as they sounded. Specifically, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) advanced the Federalist Society dark money plot to destroy America conspiracy theory.
After describing his Democrat colleagues’ behavior and noting how many were absent, he went straight after their hyperbolic displays regarding Obamacare, with blown-up pictures of people with tragic stories and constant blabbering about pre-existing conditions:
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Many of the Democratic senators have talked about Obamacare at great length. At times I have been confused and thought we were on the Health Committee instead of the Judiciary Committee because it has been such a central talking point for every Democrat that if President Trump is re-elected, they assert everyone with pre-existing conditions is going to be denied healthcare and people will be dying in the streets.
And I get it. That’s their re-election message. It’s not actually connected to reality. It’s not actually true. Every member of the Senate agrees we’re going to protect pre-existing conditions. And, I would note, that not a one of the Democratic senators who raised that point have raised the very real and catastrophic failures under Obamacare.
Obamacare has doubled the profits of the big health insurance companies. Doubled them. Obamacare has been great corporate welfare for giant health insurance companies. At the same time, according to the Kaiser Foundation, premiums, average family premiums have risen more than, risen $7,967 per year, on average.
That is catastrophic that millions of Americans can’t afford healthcare. It is a catastrophic failure of Obamacare.
Next, he went after Senator Dick Durbin’s (D-Ill.) weird obsession with concluding that Judge Barrett thinks it is more important for felons to be able to buy guns than vote. While the nominee had painstakingly outlined her legal reasoning multiple times, Durbin remained obtuse and kept repeating this ridiculous assertion. Cruz broke it down in clear terms:
Cruz: But the interesting thing is Judge Barrett wasn’t called upon to make a determination whether, as a policy matter, every felon should vote or no felon should vote or somewhere in between. Rather, she was doing a very different thing, which is applying the law. And Judge Barrett, did I hear you correctly that when you were describing your dissent in the Cantor case that one of the reasons you said there was a difference in the law as it concerned voting versus the Second Amendment, is because the Fourteenth Amendment, the text of the Fourteenth Amendment explicitly contemplates legislatures making restrictions on voting based on whether you’ve committed a crime? Is that right?
Barrett: That’s right.
Cruz then went on to read the text of the amendment, pointedly calling out Durbin. He noted that Durbin was concerned with his preferred policy and not the specific law that governed legal rulings. Durbin was not amused, and his mask didn’t hide his displeasure.
The best hit was when Cruz took on Senator Whitehouse’s bizarre and conspiratorial rants about dark money related to the Federalist Society. He clarified that the Federalist Society does not lobby, litigate, take policy positions, or file briefs. Their most common events are debates and every Supreme Court Justice has spoken to the group.
Cruz displayed a graphic of all the dark money groups that donated to Whitehouse and noted that another dark money group, Demand Justice, had posters outside the building where hearings were being held. Dark money groups are organizations that are not required to disclose their donors. Cruz asserted that Democratic dark money efforts dwarf those of Republicans.
The hilarious part of the hit was when he discussed Rhode Island U.S. District Judge John J. McConnell. McConnell was the treasurer of the Rhode Island Democrat Party and a director at Planned Parenthood. Demand Justice donated $750,000 to various Democrat candidates and causes that included $12,600 directly to Whitehouse from the judge and his wife. Judge McConnell even hosted a fundraiser for the senator at his home.
Whitehouse led the push to get McConnell appointed, and once he was seated, the judge rose to a seat on the Committee on Codes of Conduct of the U.S. Judicial Conference. There Judge McConnell helped lead the charge to issue a rule banning judges from being members of, you guessed it, the Federalist Society. Whitehouse and six other Democrat members of the Senate cheered on this effort in writing. That is not a conspiracy.
The rule was never issued, but Cruz walking through it was hysterical. The only downside was that Whitehouse had left the hearing room, so there was no shot of his expression. This was a deliberate clap-back across the aisle after a day and half of the lunacy. It was also extremely well done.