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Senator Mazie Hirono Opens Up On SCOTUS

She talks about Kavanaugh, Gorsuch, Barrett, and Ginsburg. Merrick Garland makes a guest appearance.


Senator Mazie Hirono, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, gave a lengthy interview to the New York Times. Here are a few highlights that concern the Supreme Court.

First, she said Justice Kavanaugh was a "political operative." She added, "In my view he's not a very good lawyer."

Second, she said she spoke with Attorney General Garland about Kavanaugh's Garza decision. I'm sure Merrick is thrilled that she revealed their discussion to the press:

Hirono: I've gotten to know Merrick Garland a little bit, and he told me he was watching the Kavanaugh hearings. Merrick Garland is not somebody who says anything bad about anybody, but the Garza case — when Kavanaugh said that was a parental-consent case, did you almost fall off your chair, as I did?

NYT: Garland said that to you about the Garza case?

Hirono: No, I said that to Garland. He just kind of looked at me like, Yeah. I knew that he was astounded.

Third, she offered this description of Justice Gorsuch:

I don't mind conservatives on the Court. I mean, of the three new ones Gorsuch is pretty conservative, but he's a literal person: If it says so right there in black and white, then he'll go with it. Sometimes it results in really stupid decisions, in my view. If the law was there to protect people from falling through a round hole and a person fell through a square hole — too bad for you. He's smart enough to know that's a ridiculous posture.

A "literal" analysis that leads to a "stupid decision." It is unclear if Senator Hirono was talking about Bostock.

She offered a comment about Justice Barrett and her Catholicism.

So it wasn't that she was a Catholic, but that there's supposed to be this thing called separation of church and state, which is becoming blurred. Her religion, I didn't care. What I care about is the use of religion as basically trumping every other right.

The Washington Examiner also includes an excerpt from Hirono's new book. The Senator relays a conversation with RBG:

Hirono, who serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee, recalled in her forthcoming memoir, Heart of Fire, how a month after Senate Republicans confirmed Kavanaugh to the high court, the "troubled" Hirono sat herself next to Ginsburg at a dinner party and offered her regrets.

"You have to live forever," Hirono whispered to Ginsburg, noting that she felt "some small comfort" as long as the octogenarian justice sat on the court.

Ginsburg did not respond to Hirono's entreaty directly, only replying that with Kavanaugh on the court, there would be more 5-4 decisions than before. The two women agreed that that was a bleak prospect, Hirono wrote.

When the Senate held the final vote to confirm Barrett, Hirono walked to the Senate floor, put her thumb down, and said, "Hell, no."

In the interview with the Times, Hirono states explicitly what many Democrats think: a judge should be measured based on what progressive results they reach:

I expect the Supreme Court to actually expand people's individual rights and freedoms. I don't expect the Supreme Court to be constraining voting rights and a woman's right to choose. I expect the Supreme Court to be protective of minority rights, and that is not where this Court is. So this is not an equivalency.

We are beyond platitudes like "courts should follow the law." Now, Courts should expand rights and protect minorities. That's their job, regardless of what the law says. Senator Hirono's candor is refreshing.