Ask Judge Barrett tough, pointed questions — with a smile

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President Trump with SCOTUS nominee Amy Coney Barrett, who likely will be portrayed by Laura Linney in an inevitable HBO movie.

To hear some of my fellow Democrats tell it, Amy Coney Barrett, her confirmation to the United States Supreme Court pretty much a mathematical certainty, will quickly lead the new conservative super majority to slam shut every door for women ever opened by the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

The hysteria and hand wringing are escalating so fast, I halfway expect to hear a prediction that Barrett will rescind women’s right to vote, own property and read books other than the Bible, then promptly retire from SCOTUS to a barefoot and perpetually pregnant life with her husband, Jesse, and seven kids. She will not be able to be a carpool driver anymore, however, since women will no longer be allowed behind the wheel.

Please, my fellow liberals, progressives and lefties. Take a breath. Barrett is not the jurist we’d pick to replace the revered RBG, but she’s not devil’s handmaiden. She is, if only for a moment, a pawn.

If President Trump had had any goal other than exciting the evangelical Christian segment of his base, he would have picked someone more moderate — like, say, the short-listed Judge Joan Larsen, who volunteered for Joe Biden in 1987 and Bob Dole in 1996 — who could likely breeze through confirmation and bring a little peace and calm to our polarized nation.

But domestic tranquility is not now and never will be Trump’s aim. He wants contentious hearings. He wants things to get ugly. He wants Barrett, like Clarence Thomas before her, to put Democrats in an awkward position.

The Democrats in the Senate should not take the bait. Nor should they boycott the confirmation hearings, as rumor has it some Democrats are considering. That would only make them look petty — and derelict in their Constitutional duty.

Barrett, with her soccer-mom look and big family, including a Down Syndrome child of her own and two adopted Haitians, will make any hostile questioner look like a jerk. So, no hostile questions. No need. It’s not as though anyone has accused her of exposing herself or molesting a drunken girl at a party.

Do not badger, harass or harangue. Treat her like the decent person she appears to be.

Treat her with civility and respect, but ask specific, firm questions that will put her on the record, as much as possible, on where she stands on Presidential immunity from prosecution, separation of church and state, abortion, press freedom, the death penalty, firearms, systemic racism, LGBT rights.

Ask her if she believes climate change is a hoax.

Ask her if she believes the Affordable Health Care Act is unconstitutional.

Ask her if she believes, as some conservatives do, that Black Lives Matter is a terrorist organization.

Ask her if she has read Margaret Atwood’s A Handmaid’s Tale and, if so, what she thinks of it.

Ask her if it gave her pause to accept a SCOTUS nomination of a President who has been heard on verifiable audio tape bragging that he could grab women’s pudenda with impunity.

Ask her anything, but ask her politely. And prepare to make the best of whatever lies ahead.

Written by

Mississippi native, award-winning veteran of The Orlando Sentinel, the Minneapolis Star Tribune and Newsday, stand-up storyteller, lives in Athens, Ga.

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