One of the Republican Party's most common attacks against the left is to accuse it and the Democratic party of nominating "activist judges" and having an agenda of "packing" the judiciary with far-left radicals should Joe Biden win the presidential election.
But the GOP has a long history of doing exactly what it accuses the left of plotting, and former presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg expertly demonstrated this during a recent appearance on MSNBC. Buttigieg used Coney Barrett's own opening statement from her Supreme Court confirmation hearing to expose her and the Right's designs on "judicial activism."
Buttigieg's comments begin at approximately the 2:14 mark.
Pete Buttigieg Responds To Amy Coney Barrett's Opening Statement | AM Joy | MSNBC youtu.be
In her opening statement, Coney Barrett quoted her mentor, the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who asserted that it was not the Court's place to facilitate social change or legislation.
"A judge must apply the law as written, not as the judge wishes it were. Sometimes that approach meant reaching results that he did not like. But as he put it in one of his best-known opinions, that is what it means to say we have a government of laws, not of men."
In other words, the Constitution says what it says, and the time in which it was written is immaterial.
Many have interpreted Coney Barrett's citation of Scalia to be a direct reference to Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court case that resulted in the legalization of same-sex marriage in 2015, which, along with Roe v. Wade, many conservatives consider the most egregious examples of so-called "judicial activism" by the left.
But the notion that the Constitution should not be open to interpretation is difficult to justify. Slavery would still be the law of the land in 2020 in that case, to name just one such egregious outcome of Constitutional originalism.In his comments, Buttigieg astutely made this point using Coney Barrett's and many other Republicans' words against them, and in so doing made plain the judicial activism readily apparent in Barrett Coney's words.
"At the end of the day, rights in this country have been expanded because courts have understood what the true meaning of the letter of the law and the spirit of the constitution is. That is not about time-traveling yourself back to the 18th century and subjecting yourself to the same prejudices and limitations as the people who write these words."
"The constitution is a living document because the English language is a living language. And you need to have some readiness to understand that in order to serve on the court in a way that will actually make life better."
Buttigieg went on to quote one of Conservatives' most beloved Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson, who made precisely this point at the time of the Constitution's drafting.
"It was actually Thomas Jefferson himself who said that 'We might as well ask a man to still wear the coat which fitted him when he was a boy as expect future generations to live under' — what he called — 'the regime of their barbarous ancestors.'"
"So even the founders that these kind of deadhand originalists claim fidelity to understood better than their ideological descendants — today's judicial so-called conservatives — the importance of keeping with the times. And we deserve judges and justices who understand that."
On Twitter, many people applauded Buttigieg's words.
@tribelaw @PeteButtigieg Pete Buttigieg explaining simply & straightforwardly about the constitution & it's provisi… https://t.co/I3mcolFUIz— Joe Thomas (@Joe Thomas)1602448912.0
@tribelaw @PeteButtigieg I was blown away by Mayor Pete’s authenticity, measured responses and compassion listening… https://t.co/FcIxtmV1ss— Jason Baum (@Jason Baum)1602448378.0
@tribelaw @PeteButtigieg Geez, @PeteButtigieg is so smart and articulate and breaks things down to their essence.… https://t.co/1Mvk7HdLTS— Michael J. Stern (@Michael J. Stern)1602449861.0
@Rob_Rogers @RhondaJonesLevy We don’t deserve him. But I sure hope he has a very prominent role in the next admin— The Chosen Pear (@The Chosen Pear)1602512622.0
Well done, @PeteButtigieg If we're being strictly "originalist," Amy Coney Barrett couldn't even vote, let alone… https://t.co/EMwSpF3h7T— Janice Hough (@Janice Hough)1602439106.0
Another day of Pete out there calling out the bs, "but really what I see in there is a pathway to judicial activism… https://t.co/FL2oP62ASG— Christine (@Christine)1602435121.0
About an hour ago, Judge Amy Coney Barrett released her opening statement for tomorrow's hearing. @PeteButtigieg r… https://t.co/CwTe3MO700— Gary Armstrong (@Gary Armstrong)1602433523.0
@PreetBharara Pete Buttigieg nailed it. He decoded and revealed Amy Coney Barrett’s written statement to the Judici… https://t.co/jdt5dx4Qm0— grannynanny 🆘 (@grannynanny 🆘)1602441836.0
@lgbtqnation @se4realhinton @PeteButtigieg @JoeBiden Ally, resource, champion... try any of those instead of “tool.… https://t.co/EUwft8F4k8— Leslie Dennard (@Leslie Dennard)1602522981.0
@PeteButtigieg is so very amazing! More Pete! Perfectly frames the problem with Amy Coney Barrett https://t.co/5fba3fdIOX— Fighting TrumpVirus (@Fighting TrumpVirus)1602442757.0
This is but the latest viral television appearances in which Buttigieg has clearly underline the hypocrisies apparent in many of the GOP's positions, including appearances on Fox News last week that many believe will succeed in bringing Republican voters to Joe Biden's side in the election.