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The confirmation hearings that weren't

Susan Estrich on

There were times when I crowded in front of stores selling televisions to watch Anita Hill or Clarence Thomas, to see Robert Bork borked, to catch the latest on Brett Kavanaugh.

This time, I was sitting in my house with a television that I never turned on.

Why bother?

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said it, and it's all that matters: "We have the votes."

And he does. The vote may cost Susan Collins her Senate seat and may cost Republicans control of the Senate, but that's a small price to pay if, finally, conservatives don't have to wring their hands anymore about the failures of Chief Justice John Roberts.

Roberts has done everything he can to keep the Supreme Court out of partisan politics and to not make it an issue during presidential campaigns.

 

But John Roberts doesn't matter anymore.

Judge Amy Coney Barrett, the presumed next justice, said absolutely nothing of substance at her confirmation hearing, which is precisely what she was assigned to do.

But she has written three telephone books' worth of articles, essays and even signed ads expressing her opposition to Roe v. Wade. She has been writing to earn the attention of conservatives with her unerring commitment to "originalism" -- which means the Constitution means what it meant in 1787. Figuring out how those guys would have dealt with privacy in a technologically wired world might confound even the most committed originalists. Originalism, like federalism, is one of those doctrines you bring out in the hopes that folks won't recognize that, actually, you just lost.

I can't help but think of my friend Merrick Garland, such a brilliant and thoughtful judge, and the mark he might have made on the court.

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