GOP senator: Barrett can't be racist because of her children


Mike Crapo was appalled 'that a mother of children of different races could be accused of not being sensitive nor willing to protect the rights of all.'

During the third day of Judge Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation hearing, Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) expressed bewilderment that a woman with a multiracial family could be accused of perpetuating racism.

Responding to a plea from Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), who had urged Barrett to look further into racial disparities in the justice system, Crapo seemed offended on Barrett's behalf.

"I think there was at least an implication from what was just said that you would not be sensitive to the need for equal justice for all under the law, for all peoples in America," Crapo said. "Would you like to respond to that?"

Barrett's words were measured.

"I am fully committed to equal justice under the law for all persons," she said.

Barrett added that she was "fully committed" to enforcing all laws to "prohibit racial discrimination."

"In my private life, I abhor racial discrimination, and obviously for both personal reasons and professional reasons, want to ensure that there's equal justice for all," Barrett said.

She noted that her children were no longer in the room, but she wanted them to know — "especially Vivian and John Peter" who are Black — that she "unequivocally" condemns racism and that she would do anything she could "personally, and as a judge" to combat racism.

Crapo thanked her.

"I find it just incredible that a mother of children of different races could be accused of not being sensitive nor willing to protect the rights of all under the Constitution," he said.

It wasn't the first time this week that Senate Republicans referred to Barrett's family.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) asked Barrett on Tuesday how, as the mother of Black children, she would apply that experience to sitting on the Supreme Court bench.

"You and your husband are the parents of a multiracial family," Hawley said. "Can you give us some sense just in your personal experience what that has been like for you, what that means to you, what experience you bring to the bench because of your experience as a parent in this unique context?"

Barrett said that any personal experience of her life would not "dictate" how she decided cases, noting that "in applying the law and deciding cases," she doesn't "let those experiences dictate the outcome."

Also on Tuesday, Sen. Ted Cruz expressed his deep "admiration" for Barrett adopting two children from Haiti, referring to their adoption as a "remarkable" story.

Throughout her hearing, however, Barrett's recognition of racism in the legal system appeared superficial, at best.

Asked Tuesday by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) how she could reconcile originalism with the continued existence of racism in the United States, Barrett acknowledged that racism exists, but stopped short of conceding it was in any way systemic. She said she would leave "broader diagnoses about the problem" up to others.

"I think it is an entirely uncontroversial and obvious statement, given as we just talked about the George Floyd video, that racism persists in our country," Barrett said to Durbin. "As to putting my finger on the nature of the problem, whether as you say it's just outright or systemic racism, or how to tackle the issue of making it better, those things are policy questions."

Barrett's judicial record undercuts her professed commitment to dismantling racism.

While on the Seventh Circuit, Barrett ruled against an Illinois transportation employee claiming his supervisor used a racial slur.

In her opinion, she wrote that although "the n-word is an egregious racial epithet," the plaintiff couldn't "win simply by proving that the word was uttered."

She added that his negative experience had "nothing to do with his race," and that the plaintiff could not prove a hostile or abusive work environment solely on the basis of his supervisor using racial slurs.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.