Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) is obviously not a member of the US Senate but that hasn’t stopped her from making a new demand of the chamber’s Democratic majority leader.
In a letter she co-wrote with Rep. Ted Lieu, a left-wing California Democrat, the Bronx native pressed Sen. Chuck Schumer, also of New York, to declare that Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh lied during their confirmation hearings when they indicated that Roe v. Wade was settled as a legal precedent.
“Our Constitutional Republic cannot tolerate Supreme Court Justices who lied in order to get confirmed. The legitimacy of the Court is at stake,” Lieu noted in a tweet that contained a screenshot of the letter. “Letter from @AOC and me requesting the Senate to make a finding on whether Justices Kavanaugh and Gorsuch lied to the American people”.
Ocasio-Cortez shared Lieu’s remarks while adding her own: “We cannot allow Supreme Court nominees lying and/or misleading the Senate under oath to go unanswered. Both GOP & Dem Senators stated SCOTUS justices misled them. This cannot be accepted as a precedent. Doing so erodes rule of law, delegitimizes the court, and imperils democracy.”
“We request that the Senate make its position clear on whether Justices Kavanaugh and Gorsuch lied under oath during their confirmation hearings,” Ocasio-Cortez and Lieu wrote in the letter.
“We must call out their actions for what they were before the moment passes so that we can prevent such a mendacious denigration of our fundamental rights and the rule of law from ever happening again,” they added.
The Daily Wire adds:
Both Gorsuch and Kavanaugh stated during their confirmation hearings that they considered Roe — along with its successor, Planned Parenthood v. Casey — to be settled precedent in the eyes of the court. Many took those statements to mean that they would never vote to overturn the two landmark abortion cases — which they did in late June. But stating that those cases were “precedent” did not mean that either justice was lying — nor did it necessarily constitute a promise to never overturn said precedent.
The fact that both Roe and Casey were “precedent” did not mean that they were necessarily constitutional or that they were not simply bad law, however. Plessy v. Ferguson — which allowed for segregation under the banner of “separate but equal” — was also precedent once, until Brown v. Board of Education reversed that. Korematsu v. United States — which allowed for the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II — was also considered precedent until it wasn’t.
Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen noted that neither Gorsuch or Kavanaugh “lied” during their confirmations, but added that if they are found to have done so, then liberal Justice Elena Kagan did as well, he claimed.
He noted that when Kagan was nominated by then-President Barack Obama to become U.S. solicitor general in 2009 she responded to a question from Sen. John Cornyn: “Do you believe that there is a federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage?” She replied with one sentence: “There is no federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage.”
After Obama successfully nominated her to the Supreme Court, she would go on to rule in favor of making same-sex marriage a constitutional right.
“Did she lie?” Thiessen asked rhetorically, before answering:
No. As she explained in a March 2009 letter to then-Republican Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.), she was simply describing the state of existing case law, which did not at the time recognize a federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage. “Constitutional rights are a product of constitutional text as interpreted by courts and understood by the nation’s citizenry and its elected representatives,” Kagan wrote. “By this measure, which is the best measure I know for determining whether a constitutional right exists, there is no federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage.”
This history is worth recalling as some on the left now argue that members of the court’s conservative majority should be impeached for lying during their confirmation hearings about whether Roe v. Wade could be overturned.
In fact, none of the conservative justices promised to uphold Roe. Indeed, if they had done so — if they had promised to vote a certain way in a case in exchange for something of value, a senator’s vote — that would be an impeachable offense. It would be a serious violation of judicial ethics for a nominee to the federal bench to say how they would vote in a case before hearing the facts and evidence.
Thiessen then added a quote from the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s 1993 confirmation hearings.
“It would be wrong for me to say or preview in this legislative chamber how I would cast my vote on questions the Supreme Court may be called upon to decide,” she said.
“A judge sworn to decide impartially can offer no forecasts, no hints, for that would show not only disregard for the specifics of the particular case, but it would also display disdain for the entire judicial process,” she added.