Amy Coney Barrett hearing: Republican who voted against both Obama nominees complains about partisan politics

Griffin Connolly
·2-min read
Texas Senator John Cornyn longed for the days of a bipartisan Supreme Court confirmation process that he himself undermined. (Getty Images)
Texas Senator John Cornyn longed for the days of a bipartisan Supreme Court confirmation process that he himself undermined. (Getty Images)

Texas Senator John Cornyn spent the first half of his opening remarks on Monday at a hearing for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett pining for the good ol’ days of Senate bipartisanship.

Mr Cornyn, like several other GOP senators, noted that the Senate confirmed the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose seat Ms Barrett would fill, by a bipartisan 96-3 vote. The conservative legal icon Antonin Scalia received 98 votes to the high court.

“Even the two justices who were once considered the ideological book-ends on the court received overwhelming support in the Senate,” Mr Cornyn said on Monday.

“The Senate used to recognize that exceptional qualifications were all that was required for a seat on the court. … Justice Ginsburg said of her unlikely friendship with Justice Scalia, you can disagree, without being disagreeable,” he said.

But Mr Cornyn has not been part of that bipartisan tradition — and never was.

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Since joining the Senate in 2002, the Texas Republican has voted against both Supreme Court justices nominated by a Democratic president, citing their perceived liberal “judicial activism.”

He voted against Sonia Sotomayor in 2009 and Elena Kagan in 2010, both of whom were selected to the bench by then-President Barack Obama.

Mr Cornyn later harangued his Democratic colleagues for how they treated Justice Brett Kavanaugh at his confirmation hearings in 2018. Mr Kavanaugh was accused of sexually assaulting a woman, Christine Blasey Ford, when the two were in high school.

The GOP has said the arguments against Mr Kavanaugh were spurious at best, and a political hit job at worst.

“What our colleagues on the other side of the aisle put Justice Kavanaugh through two years ago was an absolute disgrace and hopefully a low point for the Senate,” Mr Cornyn said.

“They and some of their allies sought to destroy the personal character of a good man with innuendo, misinformation, and outright lies. I hope they resist the temptation to repeat that during this hearing,” he said.

Ms Ford’s story was never substantiated, but neither was it discredited wholesale.

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