The Naturalness of ACB

Judge Barrett made a connection that I had not expected.

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

Judge Barrett has now finished her testimony. I have listened to most, but not all of the proceedings. (I am catching up on the parts I missed by watching YouTube at double-speed). Here are my general impressions.

First, past confirmation hearings were stilted affairs. There was little personal connection between the nominee, the Senators, and the public. The nominees felt sterile, and almost robotic. Judge Barrett was the polar opposite. She exuded a naturalness that came through on camera. She didn't need to pretend to take vigorous notes. (The questions really aren't that hard.) I felt an instant connection to her and her family in ways I did not feel with prior nominees. To be sure, she repeated some lines over and over and over again, and refused to answer the same questions her predecessors refused to answer. But I did not get the sense that every word she said was calculated to maximize her chance of confirmation. Indeed, at a few junctures, she went off script and said things that would not not help her prospects, but she believed them to be so. For example, her answer about how she felt was so genuine. Her discussion of weeping with her daughter over George Floyd's death was heart-breaking. She was real.

Second, I think this charisma will help her elevate to the next level. Justice Scalia was a rock star. Justice Ginsburg was a rock star. They had that special oomph. When they entered a room, it lit up. I am eager to see Justice Barrett hit the speaking circuit, and make her vision of the law accessible to the masses. She has the rare combination of personality and intellect, which will allow her to bring the Constitution to the people. But–and here is the huge but–I think Judge Barrett may have the humility and modesty to prevent that rock-star status from going to her head. Fame affected both Scalia and Ginsburg in a bad way. I hope ACB can resist the siren call.

Third, she is really, really well-versed in constitutional doctrine. She readily talked about "external constraints" on federal power. She recognized that you cannot talk about Brown v. Board of Education without also talking about Cooper v. Aaron. (More on those cases later). She refused to indulge in the myth of judicial supremacy, and referenced Ex Parte Merryman. (Here, one Barrett could learn from another Barrett). She casually explained that Section 2 of the 14th Amendment permits disefranchisement of felons but the Second Amendment has no such constraint. We have to keep in mind that ACB has been a constitutional law professor for some time. She speaks our language. I think Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh have a deep familiarity with these doctrines. They were raised in our legal culture. But ACB has internalized it through years of scholarship. For her, it is natural.

I honestly did not think I would praising a nominee in this fashion. I really didn't. I hadn't planned to even watch the proceedings. I've long considered the hearings to be a vapid ritual–meaningless Kabuki theater. But ACB drew me in. She made a connection that I hadn't expected to experience. I think even the Democratic Senators saw that connection. And so will the American people.

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  1. Oh, for Pete’s sake.

    1. No, this is great. I figure at least some law school hiring committee members from strong schools read this blog (and its comments).

      1. This is kind of like when Rich Lowry I think said he saw little starbursts when Sarah Palin spoke.

    2. Don’t worry, Post will post some never-Turmp something you can eagerly agree with at some point soon enough, and Somin will post some open borders nonsense. And Somin just defended the whole confirmation process.

      Still, relax a bit. Maybe view ACB as a person rather than that she represents evil to you. When I do so, I thought Sotomayor was insufferable at her hearing, but Kagan was amusing to watch and had some of that charisma mentioned above, once you got past her endless shuffling around of her notebook and writing utensil.

      1. I wasn’t commenting on ACB at all.

        My comment was intended to suggest that Blackman’s repeated slobbering over her are really annoying.

        He felt connected to her family? Why? Has he ever even met them? What does he know of them other than the carefully cultivated image?

        I mean, he went overboard when he started talking about what a sacrifice it is for Barrett to take a SCOTUS appointment, and it’s getting worse.

        1. I agree. Blackman is a bit of a sicko.

          Though of course ACB is not only wise, but beautiful, compassionate and as I have mentioned before, decidedly fragrant. But we can leave it at the plain facts, no need to go way over the top.

        2. He fell for the political theater. But I do agree that ACB is somewhat charismatic. I mean, I’m watching two days of the debates, and I am as cynical as they come and I found the family laudable in how well behaved they were, having kids myself. I mean, none of them were sitting there playing on their phones or a Nintendo Switch.

          Likewise, the parade of horrible and death and dying uninsured people in the streets that the Democrats rolled out again and again should ACB rule Obamacare unconstitutional had me, being only human, saying “uh oh” to myself.

  2. It’s a bit early to be fawning over her like this, but yes, she seems like a decent candidate for the moment. If she becomes a rock star (if confirmed) is less important than if she defends the Constitution in her votes and opinions. And if she does, will she write intelligibly enough that the public can get a clear and non-obfuscated view of the true position?

    Of course, nothing inherently wrong in crying over George Floyd, I guess – “every man’s death diminishes me etc. send not for whom the bell tolls etc.” – but not only is the jury still out on the exact cause of death, the jury has yet to be seated. Juries aren’t perfect, but they’re better than the MSM and social media in edifying me about whether this was police abuse or a suspect’s own recklessness leading to his death.

    1. Crying is an emotional response, not a legal one. It would be macabre if one withheld tears until the case had been appealed to the Supreme Court.

  3. Reminiscent of this classic by Rich Lowry in 2008:

    I’m sure I’m not the only male in America who, when Palin dropped her first wink, sat up a little straighter on the couch and said, “Hey, I think she just winked at me.” And her smile. By the end, when she clearly knew she was doing well, it was so sparkling it was almost mesmerizing. It sent little starbursts through the screen and ricocheting around the living rooms of America. This is a quality that can’t be learned; it’s either something you have or you don’t, and man, she’s got it.

    https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/projecting-through-screen-rich-lowry/

    1. I love doing image searches for “young Margaret Thatcher.”

    2. How’s the Palin record progressing?

      I’m thinking about the high school diploma-to-arrest ratio in her family.

      Or the legitimate job-to- unplanned pregnancy ratio.

      Or the elected-to-divorced ratio.

      Or the college degree-to-reality show humiliation ratio.

      Or . . .

      The Palin “star” Lowry lauded turned out to be a collapsing-core blue star en route to a failed supernova.

    3. A thrill ran up his leg

      1. You are missing the point. Palin had a natural political gift and she pissed it away. She is like the Dwight Gooden (or Darryl Strawberry) of politics.

        AOC is very similar — she has “it”, but she may piss it away.

  4. Jesus Christ.

  5. Josh. George Floyd died when the fentanyl in his meth kicked in. All police should carry a Narcan nasal spray. I got mine for free from the public library, and keep it in my car.

    1. He died from the cop kneeling on his neck and shutting off oxygen. Whether he would have died 2 seconds later from an opiod is besides the point. He might have died the next day in a gun shootout with police, he might have died of old age. What he did die from is a cop kneeling on his neck.

  6. “She exuded a naturalness that came through on camera.”

    The Stepford Wives vibe.

    1. Of course – if being a Stepford Wife means being an extremely successful professional out of the house. While one’s husband – also an extremely successful professional – shares [at least equally; he is said to be the better cook] the responsibilities both physical and emotional of the household.

      In which case, being s Stepford wife would be something to be emulated.

      1. You omitted the “handmaid” part.

        Why?

      2. “While one’s husband – also an extremely successful professional – shares [at least equally; he is said to be the better cook] the responsibilities both physical and emotional of the household.”

        Do you content the Barretts do not have in-home help?

        That would be a miracle sent straight from Jesus.

        Competent, reasoning adults do not depend on miracles.

        1. “Do you content the Barretts do not have in-home help?”

          A Stepford Wife with in-home help?

        2. RALK @ 4:00 pm

          That’s “contend”, foamer.

          And speculating on the household setup of ACB? She is living rent-free in your head, such as it is.

  7. A good reminder that it is in fact possible to be “too horny” on the internet. Even for Josh, this one was gross.

    1. He seems to be pitching for a clerkship. When you’re on the mound at South Texas, you need to put everything you have into every pitch.

    2. We always need reminders that Progressives are the true sexists. Of course is a man compliments a woman, it’s because he’s horney.

      1. Dude, there’s “complimenting” and then there’s “gushing like a school girl talking about her crush”.

        This… is not the former.

      2. Most of the conspirators probably highly respect her as a jurist and think she will make a great Justice. But they also don’t write weird posts about her naturalness and self-martyrdom.

      3. Yeah, TiP. This one…this one maybe you shouldn’t reflexively defend.

    3. Bah, you’re just saying “those grapes our probably sour” at this point.

      1. I think Amy Coney Barrett will be an excellent justice, and I think we’d be better off with more judges like her.

        Nevertheless, as I said supra, Jesus Christ.

  8. Her and Kavanaugh and Roberts are nitwits that helped steal an election for George W Bush who turned out to be one of the worst presidents in history. Everyone that worked for Bush should admit they have terrible political judgment and never work in government again.

    1. Meanwhile, the alternate universe in which Gore was President is experiencing the fruits of the perpetual peace and prosperity he brought.

  9. Blackman, you know she’s married, right?

    1. I am also pretty sure this isn’t the way to get a clerkship.

  10. So how long until Josh starts posting his Amy Coney Barrett fan-fiction?

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