The initial battle plan by establishment leftists to attack the faith, family, and character of Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett is neither surprising nor new. As a counsel on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee for more than five years, I gained a clear inside look at the tactics used by Senate Democrats to personally attack GOP judicial nominees.
In 2003, I was working on the committee for Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, when Judge Janice Rogers Brown and Judge Priscilla Owen received their respective nominations to the D.C. and 5th Circuit courts of appeals.
That year, for the first time in our nation’s history, Senate Democrats launched a filibuster attack on numerous Bush circuit court nominees. Two of their victims were Brown and Owen, of whom I can attest to their character and congeniality. What were their great crimes? They were conservative women — in the case of Judge Brown, she was a minority conservative woman.
For two years, Democrats continued the unprecedented filibustering and constant attacks. Brown and Owen were 2 of 10 circuit court nominees Democrats delayed or stopped during President George W. Bush’s first term. Brown and Owen were eventually confirmed, but not without cost.
Prior to Brown’s confirmation vote, Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C., then chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, quipped Brown’s only qualification for the job was that she could be a person Republicans could put on the court whose “face is black.” Prior to her nomination, Brown was a California state Supreme Court judge with an outstanding record of achievement in both the public and private sectors. Yet Watt also accused her, a black woman, of being against the wants and needs of black Americans.
As for Owen, The New York Times editorial board argued Senate Democrats should once again filibuster her nomination to stop “extreme conservatives” from “hijacking the federal judiciary.” Owen is now the chief judge on the 5th Circuit.
While Brown and Owen made it through, the same cannot be said of Miguel Estrada, whose nomination Senate Democrats stopped. What was his crime? He was young, incredibly intelligent, capable, and — most importantly — Hispanic. That is a known truth in Washington, D.C., that nobody talks about openly, but the very Democrats I worked with on the other side of the aisle on the Judiciary Committee put that in writing.
A Nov. 7, 2001 memo to Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., from Democratic staffers on the committee explained they must stop Estrada’s nomination “because he has a minimal paper trail, he is Latino, and the White House seems to be grooming him for a Supreme Court appointment.”
After a brutal 28 months of filibustering, Senate Democrats, fueled by underlying racist rhetoric, made Estrada the first appeals court nominee in history to be successfully stopped by filibuster. Just over a year after he withdrew his nomination after unprecedented attacks on him personally, Estrada lost his wife in unfortunate circumstances. But the Democrats had their scalp: the destruction of Estrada, a conservative who could potentially have become the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice.
Unfortunately, it did not stop there. I remember the 2005 confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito. Ask Justice Alito’s lovely wife, Martha Ann, who broke into tears after Democrats cast baseless allegations at her husband in an attempt to undermine his moral character before the American people.
And we needn’t replay the complete circus of vitriolic attacks on now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh. It was again, right out of the playbook — this time a page from the confirmation of Justice Clarence Thomas. Senate Democrats, led by Joe Biden, embarked on perhaps the most disgusting assault on a person’s character we’ve ever witnessed in a hearing.
Justice Thomas explained in his hearing:
From my standpoint as a black American, as far as I’m concerned, it is a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves, to do for themselves, to have different ideas, and it is a message that unless you kowtow to an old order, this is what will happen to you. You will be lynched, destroyed, caricatured by a committee of the U.S. Senate, rather than hung from a tree.
Whenever I re-watch that response from Thomas, which he jams back down the throats of the Judiciary Committee senators, it is important to remember why he did so. It wasn’t for the Supreme Court. It was to defend his good name. Remember that.
Remember that Amy Coney Barrett is a human being. She is a mom, a wife, a friend, and a sitting judge who has a name and a reputation.
Remember that it was President Donald Trump who nominated her in the face of vitriol and hatred for doing so — despite the fact every president has done the same thing. Remember that the Senate’s job is to reject or confirm and that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did not embark on an effort to destroy Judge Merrick Garland’s reputation or sully his character, but simply exercised the rights of the majority not to confirm.
When Democrats see the futility of personal attacks against Barrett, and switch gears to an attack on judicial rulings and outcomes on votes on certain abortion laws or health-care laws, remember that it is her job is to interpret the law and the Constitution, not to make the law or re-write the Constitution.
Remember Democrats do not share this view and therefore justify the tearing down of fine public servants to achieve an end. The nation deserves better. Good for Judge Barrett for putting on the armor of God and taking the nomination of this president and standing up for America.