As a former judicial officer and first lady of Minnesota, I feel compelled to set the record straight as it pertains to Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s questioning of Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett (“Klobuchar slipped badly,” Opinion Exchange, Oct. 17). In so doing, I should disclose that I have supported candidates from both parties, including my husband Arne Carlson, former governor of Minnesota and a moderate Republican.
Klobuchar has always demonstrated a willingness and capacity to work across party boundaries and achieve remarkable success in passing bipartisan legislation. A nonpartisan 2019 Vanderbilt University study ranked Klobuchar as the most effective Democratic senator in the last Congress.
As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Klobuchar is charged with the duty of bringing to the public’s attention the views and leanings of a candidate for the Supreme Court. A thorough examination for this most important post is precisely what the Founding Fathers expected when they entrusted the Senate to provide “advice and consent” on nominees to the Supreme Court. And Klobuchar at all times was thorough, insightful and gracious.
Whether you support the judge’s nomination or not, Sen. Klobuchar helped us understand the nominee’s views and what is at stake. She pointed out the fundamental unfairness of nominating a candidate and rushing the process in order to seat a president’s ally to the court.
Never in our history has a vacancy been filled this close to an election. Abraham Lincoln had a similar opportunity but he wisely delayed until the election was completed. He understood and respected the importance of the people’s voice.
Further, Sen. Klobuchar probed the candidate on her judicial philosophy and her background in law. Her inquiries were aimed at determining how Judge Barrett’s judicial approach and respect for existing case law would guide her decisions in particular cases — and what the consequences could be for the American people.
She asked questions about the nominee’s previous statements on matters of law, her views of particular legal arguments and her interpretation of foundational rights enshrined in the Constitution. Time and again, the senator drew praise from national commentators for her ability to draw the president’s nominee out on a wide range of legal issues from health care to voting rights along with antitrust and the various freedoms spelled out in the Constitution. This is precisely what a good senator does.
Equally important, Klobuchar spent much of her time helping us understand how this nomination could have a drastic impact on our everyday lives. A week after the election, the Supreme Court will hear a case that could result in overturning the Affordable Care Act. This would mean that more than 100 million people with pre-existing conditions, including 2.3 million Minnesotans, could be denied insurance coverage or charged unaffordable premiums.
Affordable health care is undeniably important to all of us. My husband knew this when he worked with legislators on a bipartisan basis to create MinnesotaCare, which extended health care to nearly all Minnesotans. That law not only ensured that hundreds of thousands could get health insurance but it also contributed to the state’s reputation as a national model for providing health care to its citizens.
We know we should not be taking away health care in the middle of this health care crisis. Instead, Congress needs to pass a comprehensive relief package to help businesses and families who have been hard hit by the coronavirus.
Minnesotans are most fortunate to have such an intelligent, well-versed and caring leader. Her lifelong commitment to Minnesota and to truth and justice was evident for all who tuned in.
Susan S. Carlson, of Lake City, Minn., is a former court referee and first lady of Minnesota.