But after a weekend in which Democrats and their media allies attempted to redefine the concept of “court packing” in order to euphemize and justify the politicization of the judicial branch, Sasse decided to use his allotted time during an opening statement to reteach junior-high lessons about the fundamentals of government.
“Huge parts of what we’re doing in this hearing would be really confusing to eighth-graders if civics classes across the country tuned into this hearing and tried to figure out what we’re
here to do,” Sasse said.
His lesson followed a morning of grandstanding Senate speeches that focused more on relitigating the Affordable Care Act than discussing Barrett’s qualifications.
While attempting a “spaghetti on the wall” approach to thwart or delay Barrett’s confirmation, many of the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee used a Nov. 10 court case, Texas v. California, to try to frighten the public in the hopes of shifting a handful of GOP senators to block the inevitable vote.
The case will determine whether the ACA (better known as Obamacare) is unconstitutional after Trump’s 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act eliminated the individual mandate requiring those uninsured to purchase insurance.
The law was previously upheld by Chief Justice John Roberts based on the contrived reasoning that the fees associated with the mandate constituted a tax rather than a penalty.
But a Texas judge determined that without the mandate in place, the whole law may now be in jeopardy since the mandate was inseverable from the legislation.
As Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, noted, 100 percent of senators supported the idea of protecting pre-existing conditions, meaning they might pass new legislation to protect it.
But Democrats, such as a teary-eyed Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., filled the chamber with visual aids of people whom they claimed would be devastated by the end of Obamacare.
“To all Americans, we don’t have some clever procedural way to stop this sham—to stop them from rushing through a nominee,” Klobuchar said.
“But we have a secret weapon that they don’t have,” she continued. “… [I]t is you calling Republican senators and telling them enough is enough.”
For Sasse, however, Klobuchar’s over-the-top theatrics seemed to be enough.
Although he acknowledged that he felt moved by the “really painful stories” she had cited and even agreed with her at times about the mishandling of the coronavirus, “I don’t know what any of that has to do with what we’re here to do today,” he said.
Many of the arguments, ostensibly in opposition of Barrett’s confirmation, seemed better suited to the 2009 Finance Committee debates over the drafting of the Obamacare legislation, he said.
“So, I think it would be very useful for us to pause and remind ourselves and do some of our civic duty to eighth graders to help them realize what a president runs for, what a senator runs for and, on the other hand, why Judge Barrett is sitting before us today.”
Sasse explained that civics should be the most basic aspects of government things that everyone agreed on regardless of their stance on political issues.
However, Democrats in the Trump era seem determined to dismantle the basic civic foundations of the government in order to benefit their own political agenda.
The attacks on Barrett were one example of that, he noted, arguing that everyone should be able to agree that “religious freedom” was a basic and undisputed tenet provided for by the Constitution.
As such, he condemned the past words of committee members like Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the ranking minority member, who accused Barrett of being too dogmatic in her Catholic faith.
Sasse noted that two things both sides should be united in opposing were judicial activism and court packing, both of which diminish the balance of powers and the systems of accountability established in the Constitution by turning the courts into a “super-legislative” body that is unelected and enjoys lifetime appointments.
Like several others, Sasse lamented the bygone era in which ideological “bookends” like the late Justices Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg not only maintained a personal friendship outside the court, but also enjoyed near-unanimous bipartisan support during their confirmation hearings.
The reason for the current gridlock, Sasse said, was the fact that many Americans now lacked the basic understanding of American government that was necessary to make informed decisions.
“If we can back up and do a little bit of eighth-grade civics, I think it would benefit us and benefit the watching country,” he said.