President Trump has nominated Notre Dame Law Professor Amy Barrett to the Seventh Circuit and Professor Barrett once gave a speech to the legal rights organization Alliance Defending Freedom. The ADF has recently been designated an anti-LGBT hate group by the absurdly misnamed hate cult known as the Southern Poverty Law Center. Drawing on the SPLC’s assault on the ADF and Professor Barrett’s appearance to speak before the group once upon a time, Franken has attacked Professor Barrett as unworthy of confirmation.
Here we have absurdity heaped upon absurdity in the style of McCarthyite guilt by association, but with a twist. At the end of McCarthy’s attacks was the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. At the end of Franken’s attack is the Alliance Defending Freedom. Franken’s performance in the hearing on Professor Barrett before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week made for a sickening display of ignorance heaped upon bigotry and dishonesty.
Franken has drawn on the same technique to state his opposition to the nomination of Minnesota Supreme Court Justice David Stras to the Eighth Circuit. In the statement that he released after his pretended four-month study of Justice Stras’s record, Franken announced that he would withhold his blue slip and therefore prevent Justice Stras’s nomination even from consideration by the Senate unless it is dishonored by Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley. Here are the two operative paragraphs of Franken’s statement (with my editorial notation of falsehoods):
Early in his career, Justice Stras worked as a law clerk for Justice Thomas, one of the Supreme Court’s most conservative members [lie] Justice Stras has described Justice Thomas as a mentor, and at an event hosted by the conservative [lie] Federalist Society, Justice Stras talked about how the jurisprudence of Justice Scalia helped to shape his own views. He said, “I really grew up with a steady diet of Justice Scalia, and I’m better for it.” Justice Scalia embraced a rigid view of the Constitution that favored powerful corporate interests [lie], was blind to the equal dignity of LGBT people [lie], and often refused to acknowledge the lingering animus in laws that perpetuate the racial divide [lie]. As a state court judge, Justice Stras has not often had occasion to consider cases raising these issues, but I am concerned that a nominee nurtured by such an ideology would likely seek to impose it on the litigants before him [libel based on lies].
And as it turns out, there is good reason to be concerned about that. During the presidential campaign, then-candidate Trump proudly declared that he would “appoint judges very much in the mold of Justice Scalia.” And to make certain that his nominees would espouse such views, President Trump outsourced the job of identifying them to the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation, deeply conservative interest groups that cast skeptical eyes on workers’ rights and civil rights [a lie several times over]. Those groups produced a list of conservative judges for then-candidate Trump to consider naming to the Supreme Court-a list that included Justice Stras.
Again note the McCarthyite approach that makes up the sum and substance of Franken’s opposition to Justice Stras (and of his prospective opposition to Professor Barrett). Justice Stras clerked for Justice Thomas. Justice Stras has spoken highly of Justice Scalia. Justice Stras is supported by the Heritage Foundation and the Federalist Society (putting the facts to one side). Franken therefore opposes Justice Stras.
Franken cites nothing from Justice Stras’s scholarly or judicial record to support his opposition. Franken’s opposition is founded entirely on guilt by association — not with the Communist Party or some nefarious organization, but rather with Justice Thomas and with the Federalist Society.
I took a look at Senator Amy Klobuchar’s statement on the Stras nomination last week in “The many moods of Amy Klobuchar.” Klobuchar’s statement supports a hearing for Justice Stras while also supporting deference to Franken’s blue slip. Star Tribune reporter Patrick Coolican declared Klobuchar’s statement — seeking to please all while committing herself to nothing — “peak Klobuchar.” She is a walking parody of a politician.
They put the question squarely to Senator Grassley. Will he respect this nonsense?