In her unwarranted attacks on Judge Amy Coney Barrett this week, Sen. Amy Klobuchar did some serious damage to her moderate-friendly, for-all-Minnesotans reputation. I’m not sure I can vote for her again.
During campaign seasons, Klobuchar projects a reasonable and ready-to-represent-both-sides persona. But that is not the senator I heard in the Supreme Court confirmation hearings this week. Her tone and demeanor were both disrespectful and hostile toward a qualified and deserving candidate.
The concerns Klobuchar passionately promoted as requiring such a brutal defense were unapologetically liberal positions — positions Democrats regularly claim are mainstream, when they are certainly not the beliefs my community holds here in the western Twin Cities suburbs.
While Klobuchar made it clear that she wants Americans to fear such a judge, I would celebrate a judge who has the mental and emotional fortitude to allow legislatures to continue legislating their way to finding a more humane balance between privacy and the sanctity of life.
I can certainly agree that many situations exist in which safe and legal access to abortion are justified and necessary, just as there are a handful of legally recognized reasons it is defensible to take another human being’s life. However, like many other Minnesotans, I believe that unrestricted access to abortion, of the kind created out of thin air by the Roe v. Wade decision, has wrongly valued the privacy of one over the life of another.
Termination is always an active choice against something that, absent termination, would continue to have life. That choice must be justified and necessary every time. But none of that legislation can stand until Roe is replaced with something that will strive to protect privacy to the fullest, up until it reaches the point of taking innocent human life that poses no threat to the life of another.
Sen. Klobuchar proudly claims to represent all Minnesotans. After this week’s hearings, it became clear that she only represents liberal, pro-choice Minnesotans.
The same was true in her characterizations of health care issues and the integrity of our democracy. Klobuchar made wildly exaggerated or wholly unfounded accusations against Judge Barrett on issue after issue. She ruthlessly reamed out Judge Barrett and grossly misrepresented the narrow legal issues at stake in the upcoming Affordable Care Act case as well as Judge Barrett’s past comments on the matter. She sought to spark anxiety in millions of Americans by baselessly warning them they would absolutely lose protections they cherish if Judge Barrett were confirmed. This serves only to stoke fear in an already divided nation.
As a lawyer and a member of Congress, Klobuchar is in the awkward and powerful position of knowing the difference between the actual legal issue at stake in a case and what hypothetical consequences she can get the public to fear might be coming down the road if said ruling is rendered. Not unlike the duty created by the power differential between professionals and their patients/clients/employees, this gives her the opportunity to spread great fear or fulfill that duty with responsibility and restraint. In these hearings, she chose the former.
Finally, and most concerning, was Klobuchar’s repeated insistence that this judicial confirmation process was not “normal” or legitimate. Despite the fact that many think the nomination should wait until after the election, the rules are clear that the Senate may confirm someone if they have the votes. They are not cheating. They are not engaged in subversive, clandestine or illegal behavior.
Americans can vote them out of office for doing this if they find it to be hypocritical or distasteful. However, winning by the rules is, by definition, legitimate, and I implore Sen. Klobuchar to stop eroding American confidence in our systems for her political gain.
In spreading the belief that the judicial confirmation process itself is illegitimate, Klobuchar increases the same risk for riots, violence, division and the erosion of trust in our democracy that President Donald Trump does when he sows doubt over the legitimacy of mail-in elections. Both are gravely wrong to do so.
Sadly, in these hearings, middle-of-the-road Amy was nowhere to be found. Moderates and conservatives of Minnesota, this week you had no voice.
Sarah Van Benschoten lives in Plymouth.