As controversial as Donald Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to succeed Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court is, it is a certainty to be approved by the Trumpian Party-controlled Senate. Nevertheless, Democrats should use the confirmation hearing process to vet Barrett about her judicial temperament, thereby exposing to the public how some hard-fought rights might be curtailed by a more conservative court that includes her. The following are questions the nominee should be asked during her confirmation hearing:
A judge, in particular a justice of the Supreme Court, is someone who should represent personal and professional integrity, someone who, as the saying goes, not only “talks the talk, but walks the walk.” In 2016 you said President Obama should not nominate a liberal judge to succeed conservative Justice Antonin Scalia because it would “flip the balance of power on the court” and that placing a liberal in a conservative seat would not be a “lateral“ move. By that reasoning shouldn’t you decline the nomination, or be rejected by the Senate, because Justice Ginsburg was a liberal and you are a conservative and your selection would even more greatly flip the balance of power on the court than the moment you spoke of four years ago?
Can you cite Supreme Court decisions championed by Justice Ginsburg, from before or after she sat on the Supreme Court, from which you have benefitted? Do you agree with those decisions?
Can you cite any of her majority decisions from which you have personally been adversely affected?
Is the Constitution a religious or secular document?
What is settled law? Can you give an example of settled law? Can it be overturned by the Supreme Court?
What is your opinion of precedent?
What type of factors would go into your consideration of overturning precedent or settled law?
Have you in public comments or in writing identified Supreme Court decisions that were improperly decided? If yes, which ones, and would you explain your reasons for disagreement?
During your confirmation hearing in 2017 you indicated your faith would not supersede your devotion to the law. Do you believe Lawrence v. Texas was decided correctly, that all men and women are entitled to privacy within their own homes?
Do you believe Obergeffel v. Hodges was decided correctly, that same-sex marriage was a legitimate protected right of all men and women?
Does the 14th Amendment guaranteeing equal protection under the law cover sex discrimination?
Does a woman have an unassailable right to keep her maiden name after marriage on all legal documents including her voter registration?
As a matter of law do you accept same-sex marriage? Adoption by same-sex couples? Marriage between races?
Do you accept the decisions that affirmed those rights or may they be reversed by subsequent courts?
Should employers have the legal right to pay a woman a lower wage than a man for the exact same work?
Is the Social Security Act settled law? If challenged could it be declared unconstitutional? Would you support such a move?
What are the oversight powers of Congress as they relate to the executive branch?
Is the president above the law?
If an aide acts illegally under orders from the president, is that aide shielded from prosecution?
Does a president have the power to withhold monies appropriated by Congress for specific purposes? May a president redirect funds Congress has approved to areas Congress did not authorize and appropriate?
May the executive branch ignore congressional subpoenas? May the White House withhold documents or prohibit administration officials from testifying before Congress except on top secret national security matters?
Is foreign involvement or interference in our electoral process legal?
Under our Constitution and economic system does the government have the authority to determine if a company is too big and therefore may order that company to divest part of itself?
You are on record as being opposed to abortion. This implies an individual does not have final control over medical treatment of her body in the case of a pregnancy, no doubt based on your belief that a fetus would be killed by an abortion. Does your judicial philosophy also presume that the government can mandate that an individual be inoculated against Covid-19 or other communicable illnesses such as the flu that, if transmitted to another, has the potential to kill?
If, in the opinion of medical professionals, a pregnancy endangers the life of a woman, whose life has supremacy, that of the pregnant woman or the fetus?
When does life begin? Is a fetus a person? If a fetus has personhood, can an individual or company be charged with murder if their actions, such as drunk driving or environmental pollution, contribute to the termination of a fetus? If a doctor performs an abortion could he or she be charged with murder? Could a pregnant woman be charged as an accessory to murder if she has an abortion?
Aside from abstinence and the rhythm method are any methods of contraception legal in your opinion?
Do states or the federal government retain the authority to set voting laws pertaining to legal voting age, voting by mail, times and locations for voting?
Do state legislatures have the right and power to throw out election results and appoint their own Electoral College electors to vote contrary to the will expressed by the voters of their state?