Supreme Court, jurisdiction and polarization

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When this electoral campaign is over and we try to take a step back, it would be interesting to take stock of the costs entailed by the particularly polarized political climate.

This polarization is not new, but it is reaching a degree of intensity that forces reflection on the limits of the political system. What was going on in the Senate this week offered further proof.

The hearings surrounding the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett as the ninth judge of the highest court were a worthless exercise and a spectacle of poor quality.

Forget for a moment that Republicans are stepping up the pace to get a result before the election deadline. Democrats would do the same.

Yes, the Republicans were tricked into dishonestly refusing Barack Obama to present his candidate in 2016, but no one is fooled; such an opportunity to have a lasting influence on the composition of the Supreme Court is not sacrificed.

Competence must take precedence

Justice Barrett, like Barack Obama’s candidate Merrick Garland, is a competent and respected lawyer. The record and reputation of this 48-year-old woman are remarkable. The American Bar Association gives her its highest rating when it assesses her candidacy.

Despite obvious skills, Judge Barrett has never been able to flaunt her knowledge and skills during interrogations which have been hijacked by the political strategy of both camps. Should we be surprised that the candidate preferred to offer agreed answers or that she skilfully circumvented the traps laid out in her path?

Amy Coney Barrett has practiced elegant dodging, as have other judges subjected to this meaningless exercise since the rejection of Robert Bork’s candidacy in 1987. Brilliant, but very rebellious, the candidate of Ronald Reagan had constantly challenged the senators , preferring to deliver the bottom of his thoughts rather than offering complacent repartees.

Yes, Justice Barrett is a Conservative and she does not deny her Catholic faith. It goes without saying that the Republicans, installed in the White House and in the majority in the Senate, set their sights on a talented candidate whose constitutional approach corresponds to the expectations of their electorate.

Of course progressives react with anger or concern, Conservatives would react the same way if the tables were turned. But there is nothing unconstitutional here.

Eliminate hearings?

For long periods of time, the hearings allowed us to assess the skills of the candidates. They even very often made it possible to refresh the knowledge of enthusiasts who compared the different schools of thought surrounding the interpretation of the founding text. Not anymore.

Democracy and the American people would be much better served if candidates could genuinely debate their vision rather than being embroiled in bad vaudeville. Amy Coney Barrett is competent, the hearings will not have revealed it.

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